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Know Jack #397 Caught Dead in Deadwood

“Damn you. Take that!”

Jack McCall to Wild Bill Hickok

I just returned from Wild Deadwood Reads, an author’s book fair that takes place each June in Deadwood, South Dakota. For me, the event was as mercurial as my personality. If you know Jack, you know that’s about par for the course. The conclusion of the matter is that I want to go back next year.

Life is for learning, so I’ll do things a little differently next time. That too is the usual course for those like me who want to see what’s over the next hill without peeking first to see what may be lurking there.

I did enjoy the opportunity to read one of my stories on Friday night. I wrote that particular story knowing that I was going to Deadwood. It’s about a writer who goes to Deadwood for a book signing and stumbles into an adventure of sorts.

After almost dying from a heart attack at the book signing, my hero finds himself playing poker with the dead men from the other stories as the murder of Hickok takes place anew. There is also a short bit of history about the title, Dead Man’s Hand.

This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for the book. It’s more a look at how I, as a writer, find ideas and participate in the story. More often than not, my stories begin with a vision. In my mind’s eye, I “see” a bit of the story unfold. What triggers the vision varies.

It can be a song. New Mother Nature and She’s Not There came together in Lady on the Edge (not published yet). It can come from a sight accompanied by a little voice that says, “Hey, what if…”. My little Schnauzer, HyDee, yapping at the door inspired Bayou Moon. Titan refusing to walk the lake trail with me opens the story The Ghoul Next Door. Other times, the inspiration is actually a vision. That is, I see it happen much like watching a movie. Ed Landry waking up in a Love’s parking lot at the start of Blood Moon was like that. So too was the opening of the yet unpublished Trails of Trouble. That one had me stumped about what came next until my grandson’s third-grade story brought it together.

I’m not sure whether or not the process of starting a story is purely egotistical, but it does require a personal connection. I am sure it’s all in my head and I’m okay with that.


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