by Dave Lager

Thanks DPL!

A very big thank you to the Davenport Public Library for hosting the Local Indie Authors Day yesterday (Oct. 14) at the downtown main library. It was the library’s first effort of this kind and, as a newly published novelist it was my first event of this kind. I would very much encourage them to schedule another one next year; I’ll certainly sign-up.

From a writer’s perspective, it was a great success. There were nearly twenty writers participating, covering genres from horror to children’s books, from sci fi to mysteries, from local history to poetry.

Nancy and I manned a table at the book fair; we sold several copies of “Ro’s Handle” and got to chat with lots more perspective readers. I did a reading of a portion of a chapter from “Ro’s Handle,” and we got to network with other writers…

We especially enjoyed talking with Twila Belk, the author of devotional books, whose book fair table was right next to ours; to Jonathan Turner, who wrote a fascinating history of Downtown Davenport’s infamous Bucktown District; and to Lilly Setterdahl, who’s written both non-fiction and novels about Swedish immigrants in the U.S.

Early Ro (one): Portents

Ro was born on May 15, 1982, at Mercy Hospital in Lee’s Landing Iowa to Kate and Mike Delahanty. She was Kate and Mike’s second child; her older brother, Patrick, was a little over two when his sister arrived. It was a normal birth in all respects, except that Ro was twenty-one inches long, which turned out to be something of a portent of her just over five-ten height as an adult, a trait inherited from her six-four father.

As an infant she had trouble saying her brother’s name; instead of “Patrick” it came out “Tuck,” which turned into a special nickname only Ro used for her sibling throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
Ro was what most parents would consider “a good baby” in that she wasn’t hard to take care of. However, she did have her quirks that turned out to be auguries for her future:

– She liked being naked or at least only wearing her diaper, and tended to fuss when Kate or Mike wanted to put her in her onesie. As an adult she also liked being naked and favored casual, loose-fitting clothes.

– Although she went to bed by eight o’clock most nights, she often woke-up in the middle of the night, perhaps predicting her propensity to be a night person when she grew-up.

– To get her to go back to sleep Kate and/or Mike would take her for a ride in the car, always out in the country. They could see her in the rearview mirror cooing and giggling at the stars and the moon and passing farmstead lights before she would finally drift off to sleep. As a grown-up, third-shift deputy sheriff, Ro loved patrolling the county’s roads and byways.

– On her second birthday her Aunt Eileen gave her a three-foot panda bear that Ro immediately named Peter Panda; it slept in her bed with her until she was nearly six. However, subsequent gifts from Aunt Eileen of lots of Barbies and Barbie accessories – Eileen was absolutely sure every little girl just loved playing with dolls − all ended up in Ro’s closet, mostly unopened. Ro definitely did not grow-up to become a “girly-girl.”

(C) 2017 Dave Lager

Celebrate my first novel

You’re invited to join me to celebrate the official launch of my first novel, “Ro’s Handle,” on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Rozz-Tox Coffee House, 2108 3rd Ave., Rock Island.

“Ro’s Handle” was recently published by World Castle and is available from Amazon.

It is the first in a projected series of Ro Delahanty novels about the exploits of a female deputy sheriff in a fictional county that locals will find bears lots of resemblance to the QC area.

We’ll have refreshments and, of course, copies of “Ro’s Handle” available for signing.

A “real” writer, finally?

We live in two worlds: The intellectual world and the emotional world, always walking a tightrope between the two.

On the intellectual level I can very much appreciate – in fact, I feel quite fortunate about – the fact that for most of my adult life I have pretty much been able to make my living as a “writer” in one form or another.

For many years it was as a journalist, writing news reports, feature stories and editorials. Then for more years it was as a free-lance marketing / public relations person, writing news releases and marketing proposals for my clients, and authoring several non-fiction how-to books on small business marketing.

I wouldn’t want to even try to estimate the countless hours I’ve spent at the typewriter – and yes, I used bang away on a big old manual Smith-Corona – or tapping on my computer keyboard.

But…

When I look over at a corner of my desk and see an actual copy of Ro’s Handle sitting there…

When I recall that that just published book is the fulfillment of a dream that goes clear back to my junior high school days…

A dream that even though it got put on hold many times over the years – yes, there have been several efforts to write a novel in the past, except life kept getting in the way − still never left me…

The dream to be a novelist, to create a story from scratch …

Well, that child-side, that emotional-side, can’t help but have some feelings that with the publication of my novel – my novel! − that I’ve now finally become a “real” writer.

 

How Lee’s Landing got its name

Lee’s Landing is the principal city in the Ro Delahanty novels − and, yes, it is named for the famous Civil War general Robert E. Lee, but not because of his military prowess.

The county seat of Fort Armstrong County, it is located on the north shore of the Mississippi River – and yes, the Mississippi River runs roughly northeast to southwest in the area − in east central Iowa: its population was 106,400 in 2010.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s there were a scattering of cabins, trading posts and small settlements along the Iowa shore, which was then part of the Wisconsin Territory. By the middle of the 1830s there was a village of three or four dozen cabins, a trading post and general store, a log cabin Catholic church, two saloons and an inn on the site.

As steamboats were increasingly making their way upriver, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a young engineer, Lt. Robert E. Lee – yes, the same Lee that would decades later lead the Confederate Army − to survey the several miles of rapids between the Iowa shore and Grand Island, which was adjacent to the Illinois side of the river, in search of a navigable channel upriver.

Lee’s survey report concluded there was no existing channel except during spring high water. However, he suggested a navigable channel could be dredged with sufficient blasting.

As an alternative, on his maps he marked the Iowa shore just below the base of the rapids with a notation “Good Steamboat Landing,” indicating that steamboats could land there, off-load their cargo and cartage it overland around the rapids. Steamboat captains quickly began calling the area Lee’s Landing, and the name stuck when the city was incorporated in the early 1850s, soon after Iowa became a state.

(C) 2017 Dave Lager

Indie Author Day

I’m thrilled to be among 20 local writers who will be participating in the first ever Indie Author Day Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Main Davenport Public Library, 321 Main St., downtown Davenport.

The event is meant to celebrate local authors with readings, books signings, book sales, and panel discussions on the writing process. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there.

http://indieauthorday.davenportlibrary.com

Sharing the backstory of Ro and her world

As a writer I want to create “living” characters in my books; people my readers can readily identify with. What that means is for each major character there needs to be a backstory; who are they, what experiences have they had that make them who they are today, and which to a large part determines how and why they react as they do in whatever is the book’s immediate plot situation?
The more of this backstory I can create, then the more I understand the character and the more believable they become. In fact, that is a question always in the front of my mind as I’m writing: Is what this character is saying or doing in the book plausible given who they are? The opposite side of that coin is, of course, that what I don’t want is to be the one just manipulating the character to provide some improbable dramatic situation; which would, in turn, then cause my readers to say, perhaps consciously, perhaps unconsciously, “Ro wouldn’t really do that!”
In fact, I often find that when I’m thinking about some possible future plot situation Ro or one of the other characters might find themselves in I discover I need to develop the backstory that would support that situation. And yes, I do find myself rejecting possible plot situations because the backstory I needed to create just didn’t fit the character.
As a result, I have something like 15,000 words of backstory in several dozen files about Ro, her family and friends, what it means to be a cop, where she lives, where she works, her school years, her love life, her beliefs and philosophies.
Unfortunately, in order for the story to move along – to not get bogged down in too much detail − only a relatively small amount of this material usually ends up in the novel, maybe only as a sentence or two or at best a paragraph or two.
So, what I propose is that on a regular basis I will publish in this blog portions of that backstory material, stuff that informs who the characters are but would probably not ever actually appear in a novel.
My earlier posts about “Who is Ro?” and “Ro as a Millennial” would be examples of the kind of thing I have in mind.
Are you curious to know more about Ro and who she is? I’d love to hear from you on this…

(C) 2017 Dave Lager

Ro as a Millennial

Ro was born in May, 1982, which, according to demographers and various cultural pundits, makes her a leading-edge Millennial. Here are some of Ro’s traits that definitely make her a Millennial:

  • She has a strong sense of independence; wants to be in control of her own life
  • Has a live and let live philosophy
  • Hates gossip, judgmental people, intolerance
  • Is highly competitive, but with herself, not others
  • Is not motivated by money or material goods; rather, is motivated by the challenge
  • Does not like team sports
  • She is tech-savvy enough to get along, but is not a gadget fanatic…
  • …nor is she active in Facebook or Twitter, which she considers a waste of time
  • She is spiritual, but not religious; doesn’t like organized religion; while the Delahantys have a Catholic background — Kate grew up in a Catholic household; Kate and Mike were married in the Catholic church — they do not attend church regularly, not even as C&Es (Christmas and Easter)
  • Very family oriented; as a child — elementary school age — she has a large bulletin board in her room with dozens of pictures of relatives, cousins, her sibling (Tuck), parents…
  • Has very open attitude about sex; anyone should be allowed to enjoy it in whatever form they find enjoyable as long as there is mutual consent
  • When she becomes sexually active, she enjoys it thoroughly and, at least for a time, pursues it enthusiastically

(C) 2017 Dave Lager

Genres

Where do my Ro books fit in genre-wise?

               In descending order of − what? Certainly not importance − maybe dominance, these are the genres that I see my Ro Delahanty books fitting into…

               First and foremost, the books are about a strong female lead. That’s the basic goal I started with when I began writing; everything in the book revolves around developing Ro as a character.

               Warning one: She is not a one-dimensional super-heroine, though; she is definitely conflicted about many parts of her life.

               Second, Ro Delahanty is a cop, actually a deputy sheriff, so there are lots of police procedural elements in the books.

               Third, she also finds herself in plenty of dangerous situations, as in fights, chases and shootouts, which I think at least somewhat qualifies the books as thrillers.

               Fourth, Ro has a boyfriend-lover, so there are certainly elements of a romance.

               Warning two: If the books were rated like the movies they would definitely be in the R-category.

               Fifth, Ro has a spiritual-philosophical side; she frets about what it means to be a cop and about where she fits in.

(C) Dave Lager

Who is Ro and where did she come from?

              At the beginning of the film The Fellowship of the Ring, the first in the epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bilbo sits down at his desk and is about to start his book. Holding the quill pen — it is, after all, a fantasy — he ponders, “Where to begin…” Then, in an “aha moment,” writes “Concerning Hobbits” and launches into a socio-historic explanation of Hobbits. Why does he need to do this? Because Hobbits are: A) Central to the entire Lord of The Rings story; and, B) new to us, fantastical characters entirely created by J.R.R. Tolkien, so need some introduction.

               I had that same dilemma when I sat down to write this first blog entry: Where to begin?

               And my “aha moment” was of course to tell you something of the derivation of Ro Delahanty, the central character in my books.

               The first book, Ro’s Handle, has just been released by World Castle Publishing.

The second Ro novel, The Berlin Riddle, is drafted and just needs some polishing.

I’ve done a chapter outline for the third book, with the working title of Losses, and have drafted more than a dozen chapters.

               So, who is Ro Delahanty and where does she come from?

               She is a strong female character.

               That’s it; that’s where I started. I wanted to create a strong female central character.

               Beyond that original conception she was a blank slate.

               I wanted her to have a fairly unusual occupation for a female, as well as one that could put her in conflict situations that would test her strength and mettle — so she ended up being a deputy sheriff.

               But, at the same time, I did not want her to be a cardboard super-heroine — so Ro is very much conflicted about some things.

               I wanted her to have a not typical and at the same time strong name for a female — so where did “Ro Delahanty” come from?

               Well, first, my father’s best friend’s wife was named Roe. She was the only person I’ve ever met who was named Roe. So I guess that name has always been there lurking in the back of my mind waiting to be dredged up when the time came…

               Except, my Ro is not “Rowena,” but “Rowan,” which in Irish means “red headed one.” And yes, my Ro is definitely Irish and red-headed…. And no, my Ro is not in any way based on that actual Roe, at least, not that I recall….

               Now, where did Delahanty came from? No clue… I’m sure I must have bumped into that name somewhere along the way, but have no recollection as to when or where. So, like “Ro,” when I needed an unusual Irish name — you hear lots about Murphys and O’Reillys, but rarely Delahantys — it apparently just rose to the surface when I was, as they say, fleshing out the character I wanted to create in my books.

(C) 2017 Dave Lager

 

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