Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Mitch McDeere

Whenever I think of superheroes, I think of Batman and his ability to pass through the shadows undetected; Superman, and his power to repel bullets; Captain America and his super strength; Iron Man and his flare with a super suit; and finally, Black Widow, who is an expert at stealth and deception.

Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere
Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere

And whenever I think of heroes—movie heroes—I think of the ones people would least likely chose. For instance, Ray Kinsella fits perfectly in the mix as the farmer who builds a baseball field in the middle of nowhere in the film Field of Dreams. And then there’s Lester Burnham who rebels against a midlife crisis to find his way back in the drama American Beauty.

But of all the fictional heroes I enjoy watching over and over again on the small screen, Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) of the film The Firm has to be the most fascinating of them all.

For those wondering who Mitch McDeere is—he’s one of the top Ivy League graduates of his class, lands a position at the prestigious law firm Bendini, Lambert and Locke in Memphis, and is a faithful husband to a beautiful wife.

Tom Cruise is Mitch McDeere
Tom Cruise is Mitch McDeere

During the time of his recruitment, the firm offers him a position as a junior lawyer. They don’t stop there. They give him a brand new Porsche, which he chooses black as its color, a new house to live in at the cost of a no-interest loan, a new office complete with his own secretary, and all sorts of other delights I can’t remember offhand, but I’m sure they are also top of the line frills.

Everything seems perfect to Mitch. The perfect wife. The perfect car. The perfect house. And the perfect job.

What Mitch doesn’t know, however, is all that goodness comes at a price.

The first thing to go is his time with his wife. He’s the first to show up at work and the last to leave. He works on weekends and doesn’t have the time to even study for the bar exam, which, incidentally, the firm guarantees he will pass if he maintains the strenuous pace he’s been following.

Of course, there’s one thing the firm didn’t tell him, and that’s the fact that they will supply all the rewards, luxuries and services, but in return Mitch is theirs. The firm integrates with every aspect of his life from his professional life as a lawyer to personal life, picking the furniture that goes into his home. What’s more? The firm takes an active interest in ensuring they have their hooks in him completely by encouraging him to have a child. In their view, he’s less likely to leave if he has a family to look after.

Now, before you begin thinking that Mitch got a raw deal and can’t get out, which I happen to agree with, he devises a plan. The thing is, the plan is so intricate and so complex, that he becomes that which he never thought he’d become—an enemy of the firm.

When I think of Mitch McDeere, I think of a character trapped in a life that looked great on the outside, but rotten to the core on the inside. It took him time to figure that out and a resolve few people possess. Yet, when he did figure it out, he escaped his old life and began anew. A new life. A new identity. And a new goal that doesn’t lead to a superficial victory.

Mitch McDeere is today’s Wednesday Warrior.

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Have you seen The Firm? What do you think about Mitch McDeere?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Writing Tips

Christmas Day. I’m not here right now but if you leave me a message I will get back to you as soon as I can. Actually, by the time you read this, it will have been a full month since I wrote it. I cherish these long timelines before writing something and before it goes to press. I can play with the writing, add a little, take a little—it’s very organic. Sometimes, and this happens more often than you think, I scrap the post for something entirely different.

Writing longhand
Writing longhand

It’s not my intention today to ramble on about nonsense, so I thought I’d give you a gift instead. Many times, I have felt the need to elaborate more about my writing, but I have never had the will to do that, particularly for these reasons:

  • Writing sites crop up every day, and what I offer isn’t anything you can’t gain from other sites.
  • I’ve never felt comfortable about writing about writing. I know, I’ve written three thick books that I should be proud of, but I’ve always felt unworthy to impart any information to my audience. In my mind, it seems pretentious to do such a thing, considering authors such as John Grisham, who I admire dearly, has never written about his writing. If anyone should write about writing, it should be Grisham.

Anyway, today I’d like to give you three things I do to keep on track with my writing. With this I hope to overcome this huge feeling of unworthiness that goes through me when I’m writing about writing.

All right, enough of the self-loathing. Here are the points:

  1. Schedule Writing Time—I’m a great believer in treating writing like a job. Well, for me, it is a job, so I have no choice. I clock in and punch out every day. That’s the secret as to how I get so much writing done in a day. I wake up at 4:52 every morning, wash up, have my walk, then I sit down to write while everyone is still asleep. My writing is scheduled. I don’t allow anything to interfere with my goal of getting 1,000 words done. Trust me when I say that when you become scheduled, writing will turn into a habit very quickly in your life. You’ll miss it if you do not do it.
  2. Write What You Love—Everyone has something interesting to talk about, even if it’s a silly subject like the zombie apocalypse. When I first started writing, I had no clue what I was doing. In some respect, even today, I don’t know what I’m doing. But, I’ll tell you something you may not know. If you write about things you love, you will never run out of things to talk about, either in your novel writing or on your site. I find it easy to sit down and come up with posts for my site and scenes for my books. And the only reason for that is that I love writing about the things that interest me. Fortunately, the things I love happen to be the things other people love, too.
  3. Don’t Rely on Muse or Inspiration—This is the only “don’t” on my list. Treat writing like a job. In a job, you don’t rely on inspiration to get things done. You do the job because you have to, and if you don’t get it done, you’re out of a job. Simple as that. Are you going to fire yourself? Of course not! You’re going to work hard until what you imagined in that brain of yours flows on the paper and you’re done. Yes, it will be hard, especially those days when you hear yourself saying, “I don’t feel like it.” I promise you though, if you treat writing like a job, you will never run out of anything to say.

One last thing before I go back to having my eggnog—always, always revise. Forget about the first draft. Sometimes I’ll knock out a first draft that appears publication worthy, but the usual thing I do is dump everything on paper, then revise.

Revisions is what makes your work shine. Never cheap out on spending the time with your writing to make it what you’ve envisioned.

Now, if you feel the need to write something, leave a comment. In the meantime, I’m sure at this very moment I’m getting ready to enjoy the rest of today with my family with tons of food and festivities.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What writing tips do you have that you’d like to share with everyone?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Reading

I wasn’t much of a reader in my young adult life. I mean, I would read the occasional textbook, newspaper and the back of a cereal box, but I never considered myself a fiction reader. In January 2013, that all changed. I had gone through a transformation of sorts months earlier and one of the things missing in my life was reading fiction.

John Grisham Books (Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
John Grisham Books (Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

Stepping back to December 2012, I began reading Nicholas Sparks novels. Given I had lost many loved ones in the preceding months, his novels actually connected with me lending comfort when I needed it the most. I read A Walk to Remember, The Notebook and Message in a Bottle back to back. Somehow, the strange, inexplicable feeling I got when reading his novels translated to a healed soul.

Jumping right back to January 2013, I made a promise to myself to read every single day. I also promised myself I would read John Grisham’s complete bibliography. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Believe me when I say that reading Grisham is no small task.

John Grisham (Photo © David Burnett)
John Grisham (Photo © David Burnett)

The project didn’t start out in chronological order based on publication date, but as time went on it drifted into that pattern. I began with The Firm. I had read the book when it first released and it was my last fiction book before life took over and left me with no time for anything else. From there I burned through Ford County, A Time to Kill, and The Racketeer. At the same time, I was editing my first book in my Ranger Martin series and noticed how everything started coming together quite nicely. My blog was also in its infancy and I drew on Grisham’s stories for inspiration.

Next came The Pelican Brief, Bleachers and The Client. I think this is where my wife and I spent our anniversary on our yearly getaway trip to resort country, an hour north from our town. As surprising as it sounds, we decided the best use of our time would be to relax and read by each other’s side. Amazing what happens when the kids aren’t around for a couple a days. We had fun doing other stuff, too, but when presented with the opportunity for peace and quiet, we were in our element. Who can deny that a good story calms the soul?

By the time summer and early fall rolled around, I had completed the final edit for my book, approved the cover, and sent Advanced Reader Copies (ARC’s) to the reviewers. At the same time, I had read The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, and I had just started reading A Painted House when my book hit the shelves. That whole period was a blur to me. I still don’t know how I was able to contain my excitement.

Here it is, spring again. At the time of writing this Freedom Friday post, my John Grisham literary love affair continues with me having read Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, The Last Juror, The Broker, and The Innocent Man. I have a few books left and then I will have accomplished my goal of reading John Grisham’s entire bibliography.

What’s next for me after rediscovering the joy of reading fiction? I’m seriously considering Ernest Hemingway. I don’t know. His terse writing appeals to me. And it might even influence my writing. We’ll see what the future holds.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What’s on your bookshelf these days?