Here’s a peek into my upcoming book, “The Reporter and the Marmot,” in particular a series of scenes dealing with a struggle of the heart concerning JP Weiscarver.
It first went out three weeks ago to newsletter subscribers. Stay in the loop by signing up for the newsletter here.
Here we go …
First, if you’re not familiar with my general mystery series – “The Reporter and …” books – here’s a minimal background. Feel free to skip to “So, what’s happening?” if you already know about JP and Jennifer.
JP Weiscarver is a reporter for the Odds and Ends newspaper, a daily publication in Oldport, a city of almost 50,000 people located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
As the series began, he was 28 years old and is 30 in the upcoming “The Reporter and the Marmot,” the fifth book in the series. He’s a friendly, likeable guy and has a wonderful news beat. For the most part, he digs up his own stories, be they features, a different look at news or something more investigative. However, for the purpose of this book series, he seems to stumble upon a lot of dead people, sometimes almost literally.
His reporter instincts drive him to solve these mysteries. He usually finds something different that leads him to solve the crime.
There are many other regular characters who appear in the books. Most prominent among them has been Jennifer O’Hanlon, who is 5-6 years younger than JP. She is what they call the cops reporter – focusing on police, fire and courts. JP was the cops reporter when he first joined the Odds and Ends.
Jennifer and JP often (though not always) find themselves collaborating on suspicious death stories. They also spend a lot of time together when away from work, often sharing a pizza and a six-pack while working out the details of the current mystery or watching the sunset on the beach with JP’s pet ferret, Bubba.
OK, if you haven’t figured it out yet, there is a degree of attraction between the two, but we don’t know if it’s just friendship, a little bit more than friendship, or if it will evolve into something deeper. There’s even a possibility more is going on than we realize. I’ll be honest with you, quite a few readers have speculated JP and Jennifer are destined to fall in love. I’ve never been too certain. (More background: JP had a girlfriend early on but hasn’t for almost two years.)
So, what’s happening?
Here’s the treat you were promised. Following are some carefully selected excerpts from the first draft of “The Reporter and the Marmot.” By first draft, I mean they’re subject to change, but I doubt it will be anything significant.
Setting the scene: JP’s grandfather willed money to him with the request he use it to travel, after replacing his 12-year-old vehicle.
“Well, buddy, this could be it,” JP said as he parked his aging yellow pickup in a remote spot at Lucky Landlubber Auto Park. “You carried me back and forth to college. More than once, your bed was filled with friends for a trip to a park or downtown for a study break. You took me on my epiphany journey, where I found my life’s calling. You brought me here to Oldport. What can I say? You’ll always be my first truck.”
“That’s sweet; what’s his name?”
The reporter jerked back into reality to find an attractive red-haired woman standing at his door, smiling warmly.
“I’m, uh, I’m sorry. What?”
“I hope you don’t mind I overheard your conversation with your pickup. What’s his name? Or is it a her? It’s a little thing of mine, I like to know what people call their vehicles. Unless it’s Old Yeller; if you call him Old Yeller, I’d rather not know. My name is Kat McFarlen and I call my car Lenny.”
Setting the scene: Pat Baird, the newspaper’s Lifestyles editor, is like the mother of the newsroom and someone JP greatly respects. He mentioned Kat to her. She later redirects the conversation.
“What about you and Jennifer? The two of you make a wonderful team whether you’re working on the same assignment or merely supporting each other. I’m pretty sure I’ve felt sparks at times. I know you hang out together a lot, even did when you were dating Sherry. You don’t have to answer me, but is there any romance, perhaps suppressed, between you two? Like I said, I think I’ve seen sparks. Am I wrong?”
“It’s funny you should ask. Just the other day, my pizza delivery dude referred to us as a cute couple, but seriously, we’re workmates. Office relationships are not very smart.”
“No, not at all smart,” she agreed, “but don’t forget what I said earlier about listening to your heart instead of your brain.”
Setting the scene: A little time has passed and JP and Kat have dated a few times. At this point, he is leaving in the morning on a two-week trip to Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Yellowstone National Park (the areas where the actual mystery takes place). It’s Friday night and he’s delivering his ferret to Jennifer, who will babysit him as she did in “The Reporter and the Penguin.” Jennifer prepared a farewell meal for JP and they have finished eating.
“JP, can we talk?” Jennifer asked while folding her napkin on the table top.
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“I’ve been at the Odds and Ends more than three years now and we’ve made a great reporter team. As time has passed, we’ve become wonderful friends. At times, it has felt like maybe there’s been something more.”
“We’ve been through a lot together,” he added, uncertain about the conversation’s direction.
She paused, opened her mouth a couple of times and then took a deep breath.
“Every time I rehearsed this, it came out differently, so straight to the point. Have things changed now, between us? I feel deviations in our relationship, if I may call it that, at times an awkwardness.”
“It’s Kat, isn’t it?”
“I don’t want it to be Kat.”
“It may be. Have you sensed it too, this discomfort?”
“I guess so. Yes, yes I have, but I’ve probably just blocked it out to some degree.”
“What does it mean about us?”
“Jen, you brought it up.”
She arose and began clearing dishes. He sat quietly for a minute.
“As far as I know,” JP began, “you’ve not dated anyone in the three years you’ve been here. I haven’t in some two years. Did we fill those roles of boyfriend and girlfriend without consciously recognizing it?”
“Or, maybe, simply without saying it out loud,” Jennifer said, her back turned while at the kitchen sink.
“Yes, that’s probably closer to the truth.”
“You know, you’re right,” she said, now leaning back against the kitchen counter. “It is Kat. I guess I didn’t want to admit that out loud. I was happy, for a while, simply spending extra time with you, ordering in pizza, talking about life, going for a walk on the beach, taking care of Bubba. One might say I’ve been taking you for granted. Now, tell me about you and Kat.”
“I don’t know, Jen. We’ve enjoyed hanging out, but it’s nothing serious at this point. To tell you the truth, staying in one spot for long is not her MO. There’s no reason to believe she’ll be around much longer.”
Returning from the kitchen, Jennifer picked up a journalism trade magazine from a table next to Bubba’s chair and dropped it in front of JP. It was folded open to the help wanted ads, three of which were circled.
“She may not be the only one to not be around much longer.”
What? JP’s seeing another woman? Jennifer is considering moving away? JP never named his pickup?
So, what happens next?
You already know this, deep in your heart … that’s all I’m telling you at this point.
Update on Book 5
“The Reporter and the Marmot” is close to completion. Right now, I’m near enough that I put the book into the hands of a baker’s dozen of readers to get their feedback.
You may have read an earlier reference to my plan to submit this book for consideration by a special Kindle promotion program. I need to reach new readers for this series to have a chance to take off and I believe this will help.
I’ll tell you more about it when the time comes and, at that time, I’ll need your help – a simple couple of painless clicks – and the bonus for you, if my book is selected, is you will receive a free copy prior to general release.
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As I mentioned at the top, this went out in my newsletter three weeks ago. Subscribers get first notice of any major contests, releases, whatever. Subscribe now! Information will usually follow on this site, maybe soon, maybe not. (However, it’s worth noting, these newsletters will not go out too often. Therefore, you should also subscribe to this blog [in the upper right corner] and the newsletter to get everything.)
The reason for all of this, as you may have noticed, is Facebook has stacked the cards against businesses – particularly small ones like mine – with a system that does not allow all followers of a page to see every post I make. Now, each time I post something on JP Weiscarver’s page, Facebook asks me to pay to “boost” the post.
That is the reason for starting this newsletter in the first place, to try and maintain consistent contact with as many people as possible and not worry so much about the fickleness of social media.
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