Liv Olson

Keeping Tabs on Thomas

It's a good feeling to finish something that took nearly six months, and to be pleased with it. I'm talking about completing the sequel to Signs of Struggle, my debut novel in the general fiction field. I had no intention of writing a sequel, seeing SOS as a stand-alone story about a man in mid-life struggling with his demons and partly succeeding. Then my publisher said her mother wanted more about Thomas O'Shea, my protagonist. The publisher echoed her mom. And then several people who read SOS said they wanted to know more about Thomas. So I thought, okay, I can do that. And now I have. The sequel, A Far Gone Night, continues the story of Thomas O'Shea and his stumbling pursuit of the lovely and prickly Olivia Olson. All the usual wackos show up again, led by Lunatic Mooning, the Ojibwa Indian who runs The Grain o' Truth Bar & Grill in sleepy Rockbluff, Iowa. And there's also Sheriff Harmon Payne, Arvid Pendergast (who keeps playing dead to boost his business), and the rather straightforward barkeep/rassler/future surgeon - Bunza Steele. New characters include Clancy Dominguez, ex-SEAL friend of Thomas, and Boots Bednarik, bookstore owner. And of course there is the alluring and persistent writer, Suzanne Highsmith.

Throw these characters together and toss in a nude, dead body of an Indian girl floating in the Whitetail River, and things get interesting and interestinger. I'll keep you posted. Next stop: My book concierge, the gifted and talented Rowe Copeland, and then off to the publisher. No idea when the book will be ready to pick up, but I'll let you know.

Now, while sitting in a faculty meeting earlier this week, I found myself sketching notes for book number three in the life of Thomas O'Shea. And thank you all who purchased SOS and have even recommended it to your book clubs. What fun! I love writing!

The ladies, they love me (or, more accurately, Thomas)

Signs of Struggle In the last few days I've had two very interesting people provide observations on my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. They are both female, astute, interesting, and opinionated. They are also well-read. One is twelve years old and the other is ninety. The 12-years-old girl is the precocious daughter of one of my colleagues at the college, and has become a big fan of SOS. She gobbled the book up and declared it good and much better than anything written for people her age. She said, "It's got lots of action and moves fast and I liked the colorful characters. Much better than YA novels about teen angst." You gotta love it.

The other reader is my wife's aunt who lives in North Carolina and is a voracious reader herself. Her daughter (my wife's cousin) came to a book signing and bought two copies - one for herself and one for her mature mother. The seasoned citizen is a strong Southern Baptist, god-fearing, and wonderful woman who is an example of virtue and humility for all in the family to emulate. We went to visit her recently and she had not only read the book, but offered several observations, including one that I had been too hard on the pastor (a corrupt individual on several fronts). I reminded her that he was not a Southern Baptist, which eased things a bit. She went on to say she enjoyed the book and was curious about how things were going to work out between Thomas O'Shea, the protagonist, and Liv Olson, his romantic interest. I told her to please stay tuned, that the sequel, A Far Gone Night, might be available by Christmas.

Although some have characterized SOS as "a man's book," others have characterized it as "mainstream fiction," and still others call it a "detective series," it is important to note that it definitely appeals to a very comprehensive spectrum of readers, both sexes, and a multitude of ages.

If you haven't picked up a copy, consider doing so. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

On my way to where I need to be

John Irving once wrote that he spent half his life revising. I can relate, with multiple revisions made on my first novel, Signs of Struggle, before I turned it loose. SOS is the first of a series of mystery novels featuring Thomas O'Shea. Stephen King said the scariest part about writing is just before you write the first word. And Elmore Leonard said that if it sounded like writing, he'd revise. Think about that one for a while and it actually does make sense.

I am well into the sequel to SOS, working title, A Far Gone Night. But this is after two false starts where I wrote two chapters and twice completely deleted both chapters. They were boring ME! Yikes! 

But now I'm on my way to where I need to be, so you Thomas O'Shea fans who want to know more about him and who want to again enjoy Lunatic Mooning, Bunza Steele, and Liv Olson, please be patient. I will keep you posted.