Max and Kat are back!

RGB_Jeremiah'sJarThat’s right, Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, the third Thrill of the Hunt thriller featuring black-ops veteran Max Braxton and archaeologist Kat Cardova, will be put on the presses this month.

I thought The Last Aliyah was important enough to bump ahead of “Operation Jeremiah’s Jar.” Elk Lake Publishing agreed and The Last Aliyah has been a hit and won a number of terrific reviews.* (see end)

But now it’s time to take on Middle East jihadists and European political twits and who better than Max and Kat to do so?

Here’s the scenario: The United Nations has long led a diplomatic jihad against Israel, even declaring Jews have no historic claim on Jerusalem.

But 2,600-year-old proof of Jewish ownership exists. Kat’s goal—find the prophet Jeremiah’s property deed to land outside Jerusalem, which would fulfill a prophetic promise to Jeremiah and the nation today.

Meanwhile, when the President decides to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, Arab jihadists explode in fury, targeting the heart of the Jewish nation. Max is called in to guard the ambassador, but his first duty is to protect Kat at all costs.

Wait for it. October 15 is just around the corner when Operation Jeremiah’s Jar will be available at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and elklakepublishinginc.com as well as on Kindle and from yours truly.

* About The Last Aliyah

“Leslie has crafted a chilling novel… In [his] gripping narrative, political intrigue drips from every page.

— Midwest Book Review

— “This could turn out to be a definitive book, from the shame of replacement theology to the Christian involvement in the rescue of the Jews.”

— Frank Eiklor, president of Shalom International

The Last Aliyah is one of the most intriguing stories written about the plight of the Jewish people in the End Times. What makes it memorable is the author’s resurrection of the use of the Underground Railroad that originally brought the slaves freedom to Canada, and now used to bring Jewish people home to Israel. A must read for Christians who stand with Israel.”

— Mitch Forman, vice president of Chosen People Ministries

“In a world fractured by social clashes and religious unrest, The Last Aliyah is a bit unsettling. It will alert readers to realize how fiction could conceivably turn into fact.

— Randall Murphree, editor AFA (American Family Association ) Journal

“[The Last Aliyah] is a compelling, fast-moving and timely story, and unfortunately begins with a very scary, but very plausible scenario. I enjoyed the book, and kept wondering how [Leslie] was going to get out of the corner he had painted Omri into. Very clever using the sci-fi version of 2 Kings 6:18.”

— Neil Lash, co-founder of Jewish Jewels

 

 

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A Lasting Impression

Part of the challenge of writing is leaving a lasting impression with the reader. Not simply the plot but key characters.

Think of Charles Dickens’ two-page description of Scrooge in The Christmas Carol which included:

Oh! He was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.”

So, I’m looking back on some of my favorite character descriptions and want to share them with you, dear reader. Here goes.

From the upcoming Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, a contemporary thriller, the third book in the Max’s and Kat’s Thrill of the Hunt series. It’s about Macmoud Aaqil Farooq, leader of The Three Sixes caliphate’s European and African region:

This man did not fear. Fear itself cast a sullen glance in his direction before skulking way. The blood on his hands spanned continents and hemispheres. His greatest triumphs—insh Allah—had left Parisians, Americans, Germans, Italians and Londoners weeping on their knees.

From True North: Tice’s Story when the escaping slave Tice meets naturalist and author Henry David Thoreau, who is “conducting” him toward Boston:

“I believe,” Thoreau said, “there are things beyond what we can see or feel or smell.”

“Oh. God!” Tice said.

Thoreau smiled. “You might say. I call him that.”

“Good, ’cause it’s what He calls Hisself.” Tice grinned, glad he could exchange words with this obviously grand man.

Also from Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, revealing the relationship between Max Braxton and Sam Gronkowsky:

They’d trained together, fought together, dug a latrine together, cleaned each others’ M4s. Max had hot-bombed Sam’s field ration with cayenne pepper and Sam had blasted him out of bed at three in the morning with a shofar shriek that would peel the hide off a bull.

Another from Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, Max’s comparison of Kat’s new bodyguard, IDF veteran Kefira “Keffy” Jankel, and her former bodyguard, Idan:

“Idan’s a one-man Davidka [Israeli mortar used in the War of Independence]. Keffy? She’s a one-woman Cruise missile. Idan could wipe out probably a half-dozen jihadists at a time. Keffy’d take out a squadron.”

From The Crossing, a story of the Ku Klux Klan in Maine in the 1920s, this aside about lumberjack Jigger Jacques breaking up a log jam on a river:

“The Jig,” Andre interjected, “got right down in there, gave a little nudge to just the right log, and when that wall of wood came down on him—”

“He just hopped aboard like he was gettin’ on a train headin’ south,” Yvan chortled.

“Yessiree, Jigger,” said a young man standing next to him, “I believe you could ride the bubbles of a bar of soap to shore in a hurricane.”

From The Last Aliyah in which retired Red Sox player Bunyan “Jacko” Jackson is a “conductor” on a modern-day Underground Railroad, secreting Jews out of a hostile America. He has just received news that the US Senate has approved a United Nations resolution banning Jewish emigration to Israel:

Jackson’s mouth went dry. He scowled at the phone as if it were a Yankee pitcher, or an implement that could answer the stark question: How could the United States do this to its own people?

Max’s first assessment of Kat in Chasing the Music, the first of the Thrill of the Hunt series:

She was obviously a lady of class, of elegance—a refined woman who didn’t need to gussy up to look absolutely tantalizing. Green eyes. Short-cut, curly red hair. Lanky, athletic, about five-foot-eight, thirty-five-ish. No wedding band. Wearing khaki shorts and, he might say, very well indeed.

If she was available, he was interested. He had no romantic ties, no children, just a $1,000-a-month alimony and a train wreck of bad memories.

Also from Chasing the Music:

Kat turned to better observe this man beside her. Six-foot-two-ish, forty-two-ish, short, curly black hair with streaks of premature gray. (Thoughts of Jeff Chandler, the movie star of yesteryear, invaded her mind.) Square-jawed with a square face. If the SEALs had wanted a poster boy, this guy would be the choice.

She could visualize Max in Steve McQueen’s place on top of the motorcycle in The Great Escape, or behind the wheel of the Mustang in Bullitt, or slapping cuffs on a bad guy as bounty hunter Doc, or—and this widened her smile—flying off with Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. In her vision she was Faye Dunaway. She caught herself smiling.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite descriptions from your favorite books.

Meanwhile, come October 15, check out Operation Jeremiah’s Jar. I think you’ll love the action, the plot, the subplot — the whole works.

In fact, check out all my books at http://www.markalanleslie.com.

 

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The Man in Black

The moment I spotted him I sensed trouble.

It was his head that first attracted me. Well, his hair. Shaved from temple to temple, leaving his top with a thick, oblong mass of black hair and a four-inch ponytail, this was one unique dome. A cranium meant for a WWE ring,or X-Men movie. A crown whose owner was not to be messed with, unless…

Then I took in the rest.

Broad-shouldered, about six-foot, six-one, the dude was dressed head to foot in black — boots, trousers, t-shirt and vest, with a dangerous-looking dull-black gun in a shiny-black holster riding high on his right hip at four o’clock.

Wyatt Earp, anyone? Or Paladin (Have Gun – Will Travel) for you even older folks? Only this handgun resembled a Glock 29 or Sig-Sauer P220, not a six-shooter — even if Wyatt’s barrel was about nine inches long.

His stride was purposeful, confident, bordering on menacing. His dark eyes were focused. I watched closely, expecting … expecting, not distracted by the handful of people on this weekday.

Then came the Aqua Velva moment: he stepped into a footwear store and nodded, non-menacingly, even reassuringly, to the clerk.

The Aqua Velva slap-slap? We were in an outdoor mall in Freeport, Maine, I reminded myself. This terrorist-in-waiting is the mall cop. Perhaps destined for greater heights but, right now, a security cop.

Rest easy, all you mall shoppers and store employees.

Be sure to check out my latest novel, “The Last Aliyah,” at amazon.com where it’s free on Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Aliyah-Mark-Alan-Leslie/dp/1946638897/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1536616518&sr=8-3&keywords=Mark+Alan+Leslie+books&dpID=51S3x2VSWML&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch:

A Vote for the UNrenowned

Maine natives know about the lobster rolls at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, the crab cakes at King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta and the fruit pies at Testa’s in Bar Harbor.

But what of the inconspicuous, the out-of-the-way treasures, those places the “locals” rave about — between themselves?

I remember being with a friend, Pete, in San Francisco and we trollied down to Fisherman’s Wharf, looking for a place to eat breakfast. Pete suggested we follow some fishermen. They were easy to pick out and, being “locals,” they’d know the best place to eat. So we did and I’ll never forget the eggs Benedict with crabmeat. Out of this world and I’ve never found it anywhere else, from the West Coast to New Orleans, even in Maine.

The same trick worked in New Orleans when friends Pete and I joined friends Cal and Tim and found a dive-looking hole in the wall whose cuisine equaled that of K-Paul’s.

This all got me to thinking about books and authors.

Think about it. The general public knows about J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, Lee Child, Danielle Steel, Harlan Coben, David Baldacci — all those folks whose books are front-and-center at every BAM! and Barnes and Noble. These authors are akin to the Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, the Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse in Chicago, Top of the Mark in San Francisco. (Well, some may naysay that Patterson is more like McDonald’s or Burger King.)

But what about the lesser-knowns, the authors you enjoy but about whom the masses of English-speaking public is oblivious?

For me, J. Michael Veron — author of The Greatest Player who Never Lived, The Greatest Golf Course That Never Was and others — comes to mind. I love golf and golf course design, and Veron strums all the right chords on that guitar.

Another is George MacDonald, famous in the UK in the 1800s for his Christian novels but mostly lost in time despite his works being resurrected in modern English by Michael Phillips.

And I just stumbled upon Stephanie Landsem, whose prose in The Thief is stunning.

How about you? Can you share your favorite not-quite-famous author or authors?

By the way for fellow golf lovers, check out my e-books, Putting a Little Spin on It: The Design’s the Thing and Putting a Little Spin on It: The Grooming’s the Thing on my website: www.markalanleslie.com.

The books are filled with quotes and stories from such greats as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Ben Crenshaw, Pete and Alice Dye, Gary Player and the Joneses (Trent, Bobby and Rees) as well as “lesser-knowns” (to the non-golf industry, that is) like as Tom Fazio, Tom Weiskopf, Ed Seay, Tom Doak, Jay Morrish, Dr. Mike Hurdzan, Dana Fry, Joe Jemsek, Bill Kubly, Jeff Brauer, Steve Smyers, Jan Beljan, Ron Forse and many, many others.

 

 

Choose: Who’s Coming to Dinner (Contest)

It’s party time … and you get to pick your six favorite fictional characters to invite — or perhaps eight, or perhaps three. Think it through, not just off the top of your head.

Now, ask them to dinner. Oh, what a night. Consider the conversation, the engagement. Reflect on the conflicts, the encouragements of the encounters.

Now play it out in your head or on paper. How’s that for a challenge?

What would (Rex Stout’s) Nero Wolfe answer when (Daniel Silva’s) Gabriel Allon, the famed Israeli spy, asks him what he would cook for (John le Carré’s) George Smiley?

Would (Charles Dickens’s) Ebenezer Scrooge send (Mark Twain’s) Tom Sawyer back to the kitchen to get a larger turkey, and what size would be Scrooge’s tip upon Tom’s return?

What would (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s) Sherlock Holmes answer when Scottish apocryphal bagpiper Gillidh Callum asks why the famous detective chose the violin over Callum’s majestic Highland instrument?

Would (Lee Childs’) Jack Reacher get into fisticuffs with (Ian Fleming’s) James Bond (yes, he was in books before movies) over a beautiful lady, say (Margaret Mitchell’s) Scarlett O’Hara?

I recall the BBC mini-series, Dickensian, which filled one Victorian London neighborhood with Dickens characters from Oliver Twist to Scrooge, the Cratchit family, Lady Dedlock, Miss Havisham, William Guppy, Mr. Bumbles, Captain James Hawden, Inspector Bucket and others. Jacob Marley was murdered and Bucket was on the case. What a hoot for Dickens fans.

And then there was Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, with a modern-day author visiting Paris and magically tugged back into the 1920s in Paris, where he gets to share his manuscript with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein, and to meet with Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, T.S. Eliot, Henri Matisse…

You get the picture. But do you get the idea? Ways exist to create something different from the “parts” of different “sums.”

If you’re a writer or want to be, how about picking your “parts” and pushing them all together toward a greater “sum”?

Let me know your ideas. The most impressive one that’s not my coming-to-dinner scene gets a free signed copy of my novel, The Last Aliyah, which has been described by AFA Journal as “a chilling novel… with gripping narrative and political intrigue dripping from every page.” I like that one.

 

Keep the Scene or Not?

My upcoming book, Jeremiah’s Jar, contained/contains a scene I must decide to delete or move to another location.

My “feet-on-the-ground” — that is, Sherwood and Jennifer Burton — tell me I need to put Max in another place for this scene to work. The best options are the Arab Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and the area outside Damascus Gate on the east side of Jerusalem, especially in the evening because Sherwood says “Darkness is where the devil works best.”

My question to you, the reader, is “Should I delete the scene entirely or move it from where I have it, the Arnona neighborhood near the American Consulate?

Keep in mind, my hero, Max, is a black-ops veteran and has been hired to protect the U.S. ambassador to Israel who is overseeing the move of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Here’s the scene:

 

Invited to the consulate to meet the new ambassador, Max decided to survey its surrounds, get a lay of the land and a feel for its neighbors. If indeed he opted to take the assignment protecting the ambassador, he needed to be armed with personal knowledge, not paper surveillance reports.

Though home to a surprising number of Christians, the area was set hard against Arab neighborhoods to the east and southeast. Indeed, the 1949 Armistice Line, known as the Green Line separating Jewish and Arab areas, runs through the middle of the consulate.

Max parked in an alley off Kfar Etsyon Street and double-timed his way over the meandering Green Line, thinking for a moment that someone ought to spray-paint an actual green line along the pavement, the grass, over buildings, whatever—just so no unwitting visitor would wander into danger.

The Green Line, after all, was not a straight stripe, easily detected. It zigzagged here and there.

And, as in all Arab areas in Israel, non-Arabs tread carefully there if they dare tread at all.

For Max, intimacy with the neighborhood was both a professional necessity and a personal dare, kept private, self-to-self. He remembered being tossed off a bull once when he competed in youth rodeo in Dallas-Ft. Worth. He’d landed hard on his right collar-bone. His first thought was, Will I be able to shift the stick on Dad’s F-150? His second was of the bull: Thunder, they called him.

Later, his right arm in a sling, Max had walked to the barn where the bulls were penned. He’d found Thunder, stalked to his pen and looked him in the eye. The encounter began as a stare-down. The top rodeo bulls are the ones with red in their eyes, snarl in their mouths, and “kill” in their hearts. Thunder possessed all of these. As Max peered at his foe, he realized Thunder had been provoked to anger since he was born. The bull knew nothing else.

Today, with livid eyes watching him pass by, Max thought that bull hated because he was programmed to hate. These people were no different.

Yet Max could do little about that but defend himself if attacked, or prevent that assault in the first place.

He ambled through the area, then headed toward the consulate, watching life as Palestinians knew it. It was high noon and a bright sun bore down with eighty-degree heat on this mid-June day.

Kids kicked a soccer ball in the street. Mothers, their heads under scarfs, scolded some, indulged others, hugged still others.

Max remembered a famous Golda Meir quote: “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Golda, Israel’s Churchill when it came to wisdom, had also said: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”

He looked again at several boys who had been kicking the soccer ball. One was holding the ball like he was trying to squeeze the air out of it and they were all staring at him. Was that hatred in their eyes? At so early an age? He looked down at what he was wearing: khakis, white button-up shirt and walking shoes. He guessed “Westerner” was written in bold type all over him.

Just then, a stirring reached his ears, someone or someones-plural rustling behind him and to the right. He kept his pace, neither in a hurry nor a saunter. He flexed his neck muscles and curled his shoulders frontward, then backward. His hands hung by his side, relaxed but ready.

More than once he’d been in a vehicle with the distinctive yellow Israeli plates, which invited stone-throws as they rode past Arab neighborhoods. Heck, if you wanted to visit the Mount of Olives, it was best to do so in a bus filled of tourists rather than in an Israeli car. The bus was less likely to be stoned.

Israeli “occupation”? Hardly.

Now there was a stirring behind him to his left.

Now a man to his right spoke in Arabic: “Here is one meant for death.”

“By burning or butcher?” replied a man to his left, also in Arabic.

“We’ll slice. You burn,” said the man on the right.

“In the middle of the courtyard by the old Chanakah Mosque.” A statement, not a question.

“Agreed.”

These people wouldn’t risk gunfire. Besides, killing a foreigner outright with a bullet wouldn’t be half as fun as a slow beheading or hot roasting. Guess this intelligence-gathering walk was a bad idea. Well, at least an enlightening one.

Ahead, the top two floors of The Diplomat loomed over the rooftops. Max guessed he was a half-mile away. He might be able to outrun these people. Naw! Though fear could be a healthy emotion in time of war, running was not an option Max had ever entertained. The thought that a rule is sometimes a good thing to break rushed in and he shoved the idea aside with a firm elbow.

He continued walking on but sharpened his hearing, listening as the footsteps on the asphalt drew nearer. He guessed ten yards on his right, fifteen on his left.

Suddenly the sharp call to prayer from a nearby minaret split the air, the words crackling through a bad sound system, and at the same moment Max whirled around. Before him were four men to his left, three to his right—all Arabs, from early twenties to late forties. Four brandished scary-looking knives.

Max looked right to left, pointed eastward toward the sound of the minaret and said in Arabic, “Shouldn’t you boys be going to Dhuhr prayer. The noon plea is to remember Allah and seek his guidance, no?”

The oldest of the men took a step forward, pointed an Arabic Jambiya dagger at Max, and shook his head. “Not right now.”

“Oh, I do think you need his guidance, my friend. Whether you end up in the hospital depends on your decision.”

The man put his left hand to his stomach and guffawed. His friends followed suit. A true Palestinian laugh fest, this.

Max turned on his heel and strolled toward the consulate. A sudden flurry of noise behind him spun him back around. All seven men were nearly upon him in a semi-circle.

Max pulled his Glock 19 from its holster under his shirt and pointed the gun at the leader’s head.

They all stopped in their tracks.

Max said, “I’d be happy to set this little baby aside and deal with you boys hand-to-hand, but I think this will be easier—for all of us.” He drew a breath, then, “Easier for you, mostly, because I expect you to simply walk away. Do so and you can have a nice day with your families, relax and ponder how you came so very close to cutting the head off an American infidel.

“Otherwise, you’ll just mean more work for the emergency doctors and nurses at the hospital, where you’ll have to suffer the indignity of Jews tending your wounds. Because that’s what those wicked Jews do, you know: care for whoever enters their doors, Arabs included. Even mujahideen.”

The leader glanced left and right, exchanged looks with his comrades, then tilted his head at Max. “You get to live another day, pagan. Come back and you won’t.”

The muezzin in the minaret wailed on about Allah and his guidance.

Max returned his handgun to its holster, stretched his arms out in front of him and wiggled his fingers in a come-hither motion. The leader began to stride ahead, then hesitated. Max read indecision in his eyes. None of his pals were joining him.

Max raised the index finger on his right hand and wiggled it. Come on.

The leader cursed and spit toward Max, then turned around and stalked away. His six friends kept pace with him, walking down the middle of the narrow street. Their shoulders were rounded forward. The body language read “defeat,” but Max wondered if, on another day, their backs might straighten to another language: “revenge.”

 

So, now that you’ve read my scene, what do you think?

Grab that Reader at First ‘Taste’

Opening paragraphs of books are a lot like soda pop. That first taste, that sip, tells you if it’s got sizzle and you want to drink it like a dying man in a desert, or look for another oasis.

When I decide whether I want to read a book, after checking out the back cover or inside flap I go straight to chapter one, lead sentence. “Grab me or lose me,” I say.

A reader will give a favorite author more leeway, I’m sure, but when it comes to checking out the unknown, that initial impression either clinches the purchase or waves sayonara, adios, ciao.

As a journalist I was trained in “All the facts, ma-am” — who, what, when where and why in the first paragraph.

As an author I try to reach in, grab the reader by the lapel, and pull them into the story.

Take a look at these openings of my novels and list best to worst for me, will you?

 

Jeremiah’s Jar (Coming soon)

Pft-pft-pft-pft. Another barrage of flaming arrows sizzled through the dense night air and over the northern wall into the city of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah glanced up in time to gauge that the arrows landed in and around King Zedekiah’s inner courtyard, perhaps seventy feet from where Jeremiah stood in the outer court of the dwelling where he was held prisoner.

 

The Last Aliyah (2018)

The call that changed Nobel laureate Omri Zohn’s life came at that hour when the most distasteful acts are perpetrated in Washington, D.C.—when Congressmen can board flights home before the news hits the airwaves.

 

The Three Sixes (2017)

Max Braxton slipped a butterscotch drop between his lips. If he were to die in the next minute, he fancied a sweet taste in his mouth.

 

Chasing the Music (2016)

Atop Dragot, seemingly in the clouds just north of Masada and with a magnificent view of Dead Sea to the east, Danny Arens knelt and bent over the ancient tablet with curiosity, his face close to the ground. The writing on the tablet was ancient Aramaic, his specialty. He rubbed his hands on his khakis to dry the perspiration of anxiety, then picked up the tools of his trade—a small whisk broom and a pocket magnifying loupe.

The hair on his neck rose in anticipation. But then, out of utter silence, he heard vehicles approaching up the nearly vertical, twisting road.

 

The Crossing (2016)

A triple play! Young Joshua Craig was still reliving the game-ending ankle-high line drive that he snapped from his shortstop position before stepping on second base to force out Bobby Jenkins who was off the bag, then drilling the ball to Jimmy Thomas at first base to catch Stevie Fowler before he could get back.

This was euphoria. He thought of the word in his 6th-grade English test Mrs. Green gave the class just yesterday. E-u-p-h-o-r-i-a. He couldn’t wait to tell Dad and Mom about it—moment by moment. His anticipation of the hit, his instinctive step toward second, his—Whoa! What was that?

Something suddenly grabbed his attention, something odd, something out of place.

 

True North: Tice’s Story (2015)

Tice stood at the riverbank, spring runoff flowing swiftly past him. Certain death lay ahead. Certain torture lay behind. First, he couldn’t swim. And torture? That’s what they did with slaves who tried to escape.

 

Midnight Rider for the Morning Star: The Life and Times of Francis Asbury (2009)

The air was so clear and crisp on this autumn day that it almost crackled. The aroma of salt from the nearby Atlantic Ocean mingled with the scent of the balsam fir trees all about him to create a curious combination. And the trees were so startlingly beautiful, adorned in brilliant yellows, reds and oranges, that they nearly whistled, “Look at us!” But neither the air, the aroma nor the foliage attracted the attention of the man on the tall, gray stallion.

Swearing’s Lazy in Prose and in Person

 

I recently read a novel, a thriller co-authored by a retired army colonel who apparently thought it necessary for reality’s sake to sprinkle the book with swear words—to the point that when the heroine visits her brothers, they are taken aback by her foul mouth.

My hero in Chasing the Music, The Three Sixes and the upcoming Jeremiah’s Jar is black-ops veteran Max Braxton and, guess what? He hasn’t sworn in three whole books.

Others around him have “cursed,” they’ve “sworn,” they’ve “spewed words that would shame a sailor.” They’ve said lots of words without actually saying those things.

Got it?

What disturbs me, what makes me question why on earth an author, or screenwriter, or journalist makes the decision to use shocking language and when they’ know the words will offend and turn off a segment of their potential readers or audience.

Many people I know simply turn off the TV set when actors curse. I’m sure they leave a book unread when characters swear. I’ve been disappointed in doing so myself and missing out on reading several books to which I’ve looked forward. I’ve repented for continuing to read the colonel’s aforementioned novel.

Writers may think dropping F-bombs, G-bombs, J-bombs and assorted other missiles are necessary because some people in real life are foul-mouthed creatures.

My take? They’re lazy writers.

There are options to get around taking the Lord’s name in vain or denigrating a character.

One of my favorite comments from Max is his description of the Dean of Students at Yale University in The Three Sixes. Max calls him a supercilious popinjay. Supercilioius: full of contempt and arrogance. Popinjay: a vain and conceited person.

No need for a writer to pen curse words. Rather:

He swore under his breath and flicked on the safety. He was going to get paid with or without the hit, but his baby wanted to be fired. More importantly, he wanted this hit. How many could claim to have taken out the leader of the free world?

 Or something like this:

The imam used a word Max didn’t know but it was uttered like a curse. “How did it happen?”

Do you have any ideas to avoid using the swear words?

Ahead of the Headlines

No matter what side of the political aisle you stand on, I don’t mean this to be pejorative. But the last and current U.S. Presidents have not only messed with my head, they’ve messed with my novels. Now that’s worse.

When I wrote The Three Sixes it was indeed “ripped from today’s headlines” and that was the problem. (You’ll have to read it to discover what I mean.)

Now, writing Jeremiah’s Jar, I find Mr. Trump is vexing me. Yes, I love the idea of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is!

But when I started writing Jeremiah’s Jar no President had had the guts to follow Congress’s near-unanimous 1995 demand and do so, and that’s how I wrote the book… until those portions of it had to be rewritten last month.

And yes, I love the idea of moving our embassy to Jerusalem just like all our other 190 embassies are located in those countries’ capitals. It’s right and just and true. And for someone to complain that this would harm any “peace talks” shouldn’t any peace negotiations be based on facts?

However, I’m hoping the move of the embassy is delayed just long enough for me to finish Jeremiah’s Jar without a massive rewrite of a major subplot.

If the U.S. delays long enough, my publisher can say, “This book is ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.”

Now, that would not be vexing at all.