Tune into WXYZ Detroit Channel 7 on Tuesday, January 31st to see me talk about my new book, The Sinful. You can also stream it at https://www.wxyz.com/live. It may not be exciting, and it may not be fun, but it is sure to embarrassing. Who knows, maybe I’ll set myself on fire.
The official release of The Sinful is January 31st, 2023. Pick yourself up a copy on Kindle, paperback, or for the big spenders, hardcover. And don’t forget to tell your friends and write a review!
Five o’clock, Sunday morning. Bert Ferguson eased his thirty-five-foot Boston Whaler into a dock slip at the Detroit Yacht Club—a rather deceptive name for the place where I also berth my houseboat. I don’t own a yacht and probably never will. Then again, I suppose it depends upon your standards. In Detroit, standards are famously low and mine are even lower. However, a yacht I do not own.
The sun grazed the treetops on Belle Isle and splashed gold bursts through the clouds overhead. Another beautiful summer day. I was ready to crash after a long two-day fishing trip for salmon on Lake Erie. Bert cut the engine and I helped tie off his vessel.
“You want me to smoke ‘em for ya?” Bert asked.
“In molasses, and smoke that shit long, too.”
He nodded and hoisted one end of a five-foot long cooler packed with ice and fish onto the edge of the Whaler. I grabbed a handle. We slammed the cooler down hard.
“Ruin a good filet that way,” he warned.
“I spent a month in Alaska once. The salmon ran so thick we could stick our hands in the river and scoop them out. We’d smoke them long, almost like jerky. I love that shit.”
Bert snorted as he stepped off the Whaler onto the dock. He’s a big man, thick in all the wrong places. At one time, he probably pushed six inches over six foot, but age and weight knocked him down a few notches. He still has an inch on me, though, and forty pounds, too.
I met Bert about three weeks ago. We got chummy one night up at the Detroit Yacht Club’s main hall, a Mediterranean-style villa that overlooks the Detroit River and a third of the club’s three hundred eighty boat slips. The Detroit Yacht Club is the largest of its kind in the United States and breaks the top twenty for being one of the oldest. They built the villa when gin flowed, flappers danced, gangsters and bootleggers were the new money, and a brother couldn’t get a decent job in this town, let alone park a boat he might own at the club. Times change slowly, but at least they change. Although a brother still can’t get a decent job in the Motor City, he can sure as hell park his houseboat at the Detroit Yacht club.
The club villa is a swanky joint with a great bar and an outdoor Olympic sized swimming pool. Kind of place for wedding receptions and retirement parties. It’s also where Bert liked to drink spiced rum and tell fish stories.
As for me, I keep my boat at the end of the number four dock. Been there going on almost three months now, and I was beginning to sweat the membership fees, when a friend of a friend tossed a job my way—the Bert Ferguson job.
The referral was a matter of convenience rather than reputation. Money is tight since my forced but well-earned retirement from the Detroit Police Department about seven months ago. Fifteen years doesn’t get you much these days, just a bunch of wished-I-hads and wished-I-hadn’ts.
After I left DPD, I got my private investigator’s license. I couldn’t bear the thought of holding down a security job at one of them Detroit casinos to make ends meet, like most retired cops. I thought I could earn easy money without working too hard. So far, I’m wrong on both assumptions. Seven months, and with only a handful of cases into my new vocation, I’m beginning to think a hard day’s work for peanuts is all I’ll ever know. But life can work in strange ways.
The Ferguson gig is an insurance con. My first one. According to Metro Mutual, Bert is milking them for every dime he can, due to a back injury he sustained while working for Detroit Edison. Apparently, he jacked his spine climbing down an electrical pole. Not long after he declared for workers’ compensation and disability, though, he bought the Boston Whaler for a shiny nickel. DTE has a sneaky suspicion good ol’ Bert is faking it while making it. They’re right.
He runs charters on the Great Lakes—Erie mainly. Not a big deal. There’s nothing to piloting a boat. Customers pay a sizable fee while they do all the work. Not a bad gig, if you can get it. But Bert is sloppy. And as far as the insurance company is concerned, pulling comp pay because you can’t work means you don’t work, no matter what. Far be it for me to knock a man’s hustle, but times are tough, and we all need to eat. With only half a pension from early retirement, I need the cash.
I videoed Bert for a week, carrying coolers and tackle from his boat to his truck. He usually used a dolly for the coolers, but I had some good shots of him sliding them off his Whaler onto the dock. Not enough to nail him, though. We needed to become fast friends so I could see what’s in the coolers. I hired him for a two-day fishing trip, fully reimbursable from the nice folks at Metro Mutual.
“You’re somethin’ else, Lee.”
“Coming from you, Bert, that’s a compliment.”
“You shit. Come on,” he said, “let’s get this bitch on the truck.”
I grabbed one handle of the cooler, while he grabbed the other. We lugged it a hundred yards to the parking lot. That fucking thing weighed at least a hundred fifty pounds. We hoisted it onto the bed of his truck, and not once did he say, “Ouch.”
“See you Friday?” he asked. “We’ll drink rum and tell lies.”
“Always, my man.”
In another life, Bert and I would have been good friends. I like him. He’s funny, tells great stories, and the man knows great fishing spots. But he’s also a liar and a thief. Over the last two days of the job, I shot three hours of video footage of him wrestling salmon, moving around his Boston Whaler like a ballerina, and drinking enough beer to float the damn thing. Happy as a pig in shit. Now ye without sin may cast the first stone, but I have a job to do.
Except for the beer, everything else was enough damning evidence for the insurance honchos to do what they needed to do to stop the bleeding. Bert doesn’t know it yet, but his gravy boat is about to sink, and he’ll have to get a new job just to pay back everything he stole. That is, if he doesn’t end up doing jailtime. I had a feeling I went on my last fishing trip with ol’ Bert.
We shook hands, and I left him with his truck and made my way along the main dock to number four. The club was still asleep. Large motorboats, pleasure cruisers, and sloops lightly bobbed in the water as the early morning waves slapped against the hulls and seawall. Rubber bumpers squeaked against wood and fiberglass. Ducks quacked as they rose with the morning sun. The quiet island surrounding our little club would soon be alive with birdsong. Not me, though, I was ready to sleep nine lives.
Standing under the dimming light at the entrance of dock four was a woman in a yellow blouse, slim denim jeans, and a pair of white flats. She wore a scarf around her mound of blonde hair, bangs bobbed at her brow. When she saw me approach, she gripped her small purse close to her body. Six foot three and black tends to scare fragile white women from the suburbs, and she had suburbanite written all over her.
Too tired to care, I didn’t give her the satisfaction as I breezed right by and headed for my boat.
But avoidance wasn’t in the cards for me.
“Leave a message at the club office, lady. I had a long weekend.”
I kept walking—curious—but not curious enough. Then I heard the slapping of her flats on the wood planks of dock four. I stopped and turned to face my lovely intruder. She put on the brakes and stiffened, worried, but alert eyes and a pretty face in the dawn light stared back at me. She was wearing too much makeup.
“Look, lady, I don’t know what you’re selling, but I’m not buying.”
“I am not selling anything, Mr. Cutter. You are Leroy Cutter?”
Nothing good ever follows a question like that. I’m always on guard and suspicious, but lately, I’m as sensitive as a papercut thanks to the steady traffic of people looking for payment on overdue bills.
I’ve had my share of unwanted visitors, and I always handle them one of two ways. Either I forcefully escort them back to the parking lot or throw them into the Detroit River. The Yacht Club prefers I have a third intervention, but reluctantly accepts the former. However, she was different. My past intruders never looked as good as blondie standing in front of me, too much makeup be damned. So, I became a bit gracious, a little hopeful. I have a soft heart. And I’m lonely.
“Who’s asking?” I asked.
“My name is Barbara Goldman.”
“Who do you work for, Barbara Goldman?”
“I, uh, I do not work for anyone.”
“Lady, we all work for someone.”
“Yes, but I want to hire you, Mr. Cutter.”
She hit her Ts hard when speaking.
For a second I considered turning away and never looking back. I just closed the Ferguson case and didn’t need to be greedy, just make rent. But only a fool turns down a buck. Especially a fool who complains about being broke all the time.
With a jerk of my head for her to follow, we continued down dock four. If I was suddenly going to find myself gainfully employed again, I was going to take the bad news in the comfort of my own home.
Leroy Cutter was a good cop on the wrong side of the blue line with a gambling problem and life code he couldn’t shake. Forced to retire early from the Detroit Police Department, Cutter now works the streets of Detroit as a private investigator. But he only takes the easy cases thanks to losing any ambition he had from living a lifetime of violence. When it seems he’ll never get anywhere in life beyond the Detroit River, Cutter takes a case involving a missing heiress from a wealthy Detroit family that appears to be big money for light work. However, nothing is as easy as it seems. He soon discovers something darker than anything he could’ve ever imagined.
Sample chapter dropping end of week! It’s not a secret. Pass it along.
With the new book coming out later this month, I want to direct everyone to my Amazon Author Page (https://www.amazon.com/author/garywallison). Give it a follow, buy some books, write reviews, get the latest and greatest in new releases. Speaking of which, The Sinful will be out later this month and you’re not going to want to miss it. I’ll publish a sample chapter here next week.
The Sinful, a new novel coming soon from GW Allison.
A moody thriller with murder, political corruption, and a family’s dark secret, set in contemporary Detroit, The Sinful is an attractive read for fans of DeMille, Mosley, and Connelly.
In the meantime, follow that Amazon page link above! Have a great 2023!
What do you do when you get notes on a piece of writing for which you do not agree?
Here’s the short answer:
Say thank you and move forward.
And here’s the long answer:
After your immediate “They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about” reaction to notes, you still say thank you. We all have that reaction. After all, we’re the ones who’ve spent hours, days, months, even years bleeding over a piece. How dare some NUG (new ugly guy or gal) come in and suggest we change anything! We’re the creatives! The artists! The literary geniuses! They shuffle papers and drop names during martini lunches. But trust me, bite that tongue and smile. You might even go so far as to say you found their thoughts and notes helpful.
Taking notes is more than just working out a piece of writing. It’s about building relationships. Despite how big we think the film and television industry is, it is really a small community where everyone is six degrees separated. Just look at your LinkedIn network. Everyone knows someone that knows someone. Build those relationships, people! You never know when you’ll cross paths with that knucklehead who gave you bad notes. It’ll be sooner than you think.
Then after a few days or weeks, go back and read those notes again. After you made the changes suggested, you’ll thank your lucky stars for not knee-jerking yourself in the no-nos because your feelings were hurt.
Yesterday I received my second and final vaccine shot. This is a short article on what happened after the shots and how my body reacted. I’m not saying this is how you’ll react to the vaccine, but I’ve seen a lot of videos out there from so-called influencers hyping lies, jumping to conclusions, or just making shit up. I won’t do that. As Joe Friday says, “Just the facts.” But first, a little about myself.
I’m 49 years old, 6’2″, and 220 lbs (almost 100 kg). I normally eat one meal a day and snack at night. Every morning, I drink two 8 oz. glasses of water, take 2000IU of vitamin D and 250mg of magnesium. I drink alcohol throughout the week, 2-3 drinks a night and plenty on the weekend. I play golf once a week, other than that, I rarely exercise. And up until the Tuesday prior to my final vaccination shot, I smoked filtered cigarillos (5-6 a day). Tuesday I quit cold turkey and I’m still not happy about it.
I don’t have any health conditions other than slightly elevated cholesterol, of which my doctor isn’t terribly concerned, but we’re keeping an eye on it anyway. I don’t generally get sick, rarely have the sniffles, and can’t remember the last time I had a fever. All in all, considering some questionable lifestyle choices, I’m healthy.
When I was finally able to receive the vaccination, I didn’t choose one over the other. It just happened that Moderna was the luck of the draw. According to the CDC, the Moderna vaccination has a 94.1% effectiveness at preventing COVID-19. It’s a two shot vaccine. Possible side effects include pain in the muscle where the shot is received, redness and swelling, as well. Additionally, tiredness, nausea, muscle aches, chills, fever, and headaches are possible. These side effects may be more intense after the second shot.
Finally, this is from the CDC website:
CDC has received increased reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults after COVID-19 vaccination. The known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. We continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for individuals 12 years of age and older.
After the first shot, I had a little soreness in my arm, but nothing else. I played golf the next day and had the best round of my life. But I was a little worried about the second shot. Everyone I know who has received the second shot had reactions. Most were extremely tired. Some had fevers. Also, everyone they know who received the second shot had the same reactions. I wouldn’t really say I was worried, but I was concerned. I have a love hate relationship with sleep. I love when I get to sleep, but I hate that I feel like I’m missing out on something. I didn’t want to sleep an entire day away. Also, not a big fan of fevers and chills. And, of course, sympathy is light in the Allison household. Although I’m perfectly capable of fending for myself, a little nursing is appreciated now and then. No such luck if you live in my house, though.
I received the second shot, yesterday, at 10:30 AM. Throughout the day, I felt fine. Shoulder was a little tender later in the day, but I was good to go. I ate my usual one meal, snacked on some macadamia nuts, a yogurt cup, and a few mini peanut butter cups. I avoided alcohol, though, and only drank water. I went to bed at midnight.
This morning, I awoke and prepared for the day. My shoulder is sore. That’s it. Nothing else. I feel great. Not a single side effect. I’m one of those people. Hopefully, it bodes well for longevity. I’d like to see 100 years, maybe 120, just so I can lie to everyone about the secret to a long life. I eat two pounds of bologna every morning, drink a six-pack of beer a day, and smoke one crack rock at night. Fit as a fiddle!
But more importantly, I am protected from COVID-19. Sure it’s not 100%, but nothing is when it comes to medicine. Millions have already received their vaccines under what the CDC says was/is the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. A 94.1% effectiveness rate is pretty good. If you had cancer and the doc said she had a treatment that was 94.1% effective, you’d leap at the opportunity. Hell, if the doc said she had a treatment that was 50% effective, you’d jump right in for a dose or two. Point is, I’ve known COVID-19 patients. It ain’t good. Whatever I needed to improve my odds of not getting the virus, I was in like Flynn.
That’s all I have to say about that. This isn’t to say you won’t have any side effects. Most do. But I thought it important to share an easy experience to offset the hype from people hunting social networking likes. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Oh, hell, there’s everything wrong with that. After you finish reading this article, I recommend turning off your phone or computer and going outside. Experience life and forget about the influencers for a while. Now I have to go and recharge my microchip before the man comes knocking on my door.
G.W. Allison was born in Michigan, raised wherever the pursuit of happiness took his family, was a USN swabbie for four years, worked on a shrimp boat, quit college, slaved away in corporate America, was a rock-n-roll roadie, traveled the world with a…
I recently acquired literary representation and have had several writers I know ask how I did it. Frankly, I’m tired of answering the same question, and that was enough for me to sit down and post something on this website. So, here it goes. This is how I got an agent and other nonsense.
I’ve been writing since 1997. Started hitting it hard in 2001. Turned up the heat in 2011. You can say I’ve been at this for 23 years, but really I’ve been putting serious time to my writing for 9 years. Still that’s a long time. I’ve had some screenwriting successes over the last 23 years, but never had an agent. In 2011, I began focusing on prose, that is I started writing novels, short stories, and dabbling in poetry. I sent some queries out back then, but no one cared. I wasn’t ready.
Publishing seemed impossible. So, I self-published. Had some minor sales, enough for dinner and a movie now and then, but nothing to brag about. Eventually, I sold the film rights for one of my self-published novels. That was nice. Still, no agent. No one cared.
Fast forward to 2020. What did I do differently? To put it plainly, I wrote a really good novel. I not only wrote a really good novel, I wrote two really good novels in the same year. Then I sent out queries.
How did I know which agents to query?
I looked up novels in the genre I write. From there I searched for the authors’ agents. I compiled a list of ten agents and their agencies. Then I searched top agents for the genre I write. I took the top 25, compared them to my list of ten, and consolidated the list. Then I checked their submission guidelines and if they were still looking for my genre. I ended up with a list of 19 agencies.
The agent I’m with now was the first to respond to my query. He simply wrote:
I like the opening.
Send me the entire ms.
My query to him included a synopsis (two short paragraphs) of the book and the first three chapters. I happily sent him the manuscript.
After I signed with the agency, I followed up with the other agents I queried to inform them of the news. There was no reason for them to read the material submitted if I was off the market, so to speak. I hate having my time wasted, and don’t like to waste the time of others, either. Common courtesy goes a long way, too.
So, what advice do I have for writers trying to catch the attention of an agent?
First, write something really good. You’ll know it when you do. I’ve written many novels. Most are in the bottom of my desk drawer. I like them, but I also know they’re shit. Never even bothered to shop those books around.
Second, be patient. Go over your manuscript like a miser counts pennies before you consider shopping it around. Hire an editor. An editor will cost you anywhere from $10 a page to $45 a page. Don’t want to hire a stranger, find someone in your writer’s workshop group who is a good editor and pay them. Don’t belong to a writer’s workshop group? Well, then good luck with your echo chamber.
Third, do your research when it comes to agents. Know what they read, check out their personal websites (many have one), and not just their agency page. If they have Twitter, look at what books they’re recommending. Same with other social media sites. Don’t query an agent who primarily sells romance novels with you’re sci-fi book. That’s stupid. Don’t be stupid. You’re a writer, for crying out loud.
Ultimately, I believe the reason I acquired representation was because my book had an intriguing opening that blossomed into a fine story with a satisfying ending. The opening only gets a foot in the door. Still have to sell them on the whole book.
That’s it. No real secret. Write well, edit well, do your homework. I didn’t bother going into writing a query letter. If you can’t write a letter to sell someone on a book you wrote, then you probably need to put in more time with your writing. That is to say, you’re not ready. But you will be if you do the work.