Retro Intro – Eamonn Shute

Digging through some old posts on older versions of this site (on different platforms) I came across this, reprinted in its entirety, unedited (other than formatting). Originally published on July 30th, 2009


Ladies and genuflects, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Eamonn Shute.

An entirely fictional creation, living in Miami for the past eighteen months, he is living life large. And not only because he is 6 foot 6 and 16 stone.Eamonn is a fairly smart guy.

His IQ test in his school year 11/12 (when he was 14 – he completed both grades that year) clocked in at 152. On the day he took the test he was suffering from a virulent form of flu and was heavily medicated, handicapping him by an estimate 15 points.

Eamonn’s a pretty laid back guy though, and didn’t care a whit what his IQ was – he just wanted to do well on his football team. (If you live in North America, that would be soccer, and the rest of us would really appreciate you calling it by its proper name, and quickish, please.)

As large as he was, and being as graceful as a herniated hippo, he seldom played in any position other than goalkeeper.I mentioned he was fairly smart. He figured out the obvious fairly quickly. Sports were set aside and the pursuit of more intellectual endeavours became the focus.

Being an early bloomer allowed him to physically fit into University at the somewhat early age of 15. Three years later he left with a Masters in Mathematics, distinguished honours. Eighteen is too young to start a career, I don’t care what anyone says, so he spent – or planned to spend – a couple of years helping his family run their live-in bed and breakfast castle.

To residents of anywhere other than Western Europe, that may sound strange, but the Shute family were direct descendants and current owners of a modest, draughty, moss-covered Shute Castle located about 15 miles south-west of the much more famous Donegal Castle. To help make ends meet, mother was a primary school teacher and father managed a small, but popular, distillery.

To be as smart as Eamonn is can be a curse. Constant mental stimulation is a requirement. There was, and is, precious little of that at the castle, and to bridge the gap Eamonn started in earnest to study the patterns of the winning numbers in the Irish Sweepstakes. Using large number theories that he had mastered in school he started playing the lottery.

He had a couple of small winnings, more than enough to fund his experiment, until that fateful day, just over eighteen months ago [note: this was written in 2009], when he hit all the numbers. The prize for that particular sweepstakes was well into the 2 comma category. Nine digits before tax, eight after. A small chunk (seven digits) was put aside to ensure permanent upkeep of the castle, as well as permitting both of his parents to retire. Although, if the truth were to be told, his father didn’t retire, per se. No Irishman in his right mind would voluntarily leave the premises of a distillery – he continued on in an advisory capacity at minimal wages.

Eamonn took the remaining funds, still a healthy eight digits in pounds sterling, and moved to Miami, away from the damp, cold land of his birth. He started a business with a vague enough charter to encompass almost everything, earning himself a permanent visa in record time. He has recently purchased a very spacious penthouse apartment on Biscayne Boulevard, with a balcony sporting a stunning view of the rising sun over the Atlantic.

That view of the sun rising over the Atlantic is one that he has not, I am lead to believe, seen yet. To see a sunrise would require Eamonn to rise far earlier than he ever has in his life.

And that is where we leave him for now. Fat, rich, warm and surrounded by greased up, tawny, bikini-clad beauties. The poor soul.

Stay tuned.


This was the genesis of one of my first books, still one my my favourites.


Mayhem, murder, and a $4,000,000 book.

In Miami.

Eamonn Shute is smart, capable and larger than life. There is nothing he can’t handle.

Until Nicky, the love of his life, is framed by her ex-husband.

Eamonn leaves no stone unturned in his quest to clear Nicky’s name, but the evidence is piling up, and Nicky’s troubles seem insurmountable.

Eamonn needs to hark back to his rough and tumble youth in Donegal, taking on some of the most dangerous people in Miami to clear Nicky’s name.

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"Compelling characters and a well paced plot make this story a joy to read. The suspense kept me reading long into the night. Highly recommended."
"By the end it was, sort of, like riding along with a racing driver around a race track... you can see a corner coming, but the driver doesn't appear to have even thought about hitting the brakes yet; I could tell I was almost at the end of the book, and disaster still hadn't been averted. Sure enough, just like the racing driver, Mr McFadden knew he had just barely enough time to hit the brakes and throw you around that last corner, and onto the home straight."

The Average IQ is 100

By definition.

The tests are designed so the average score is 100. Sixty-eight percent of the people taking the test fall into the range of plus or minus 15% of the mean, or between 85 and 115.

So I have to assume there is a significant skew downward to results lately because a large percentage of people are “protesting” against a free vaccine which most certainly will prevent you from going to a hospital in the unlikely event that you contract the disease.

They are ingesting deworming medicine meant for livestock, medicine which will actually make them very sick and which they have to pay money for, instead of getting a free vaccine.

They are, when in position of power, making it ILLEGAL for establishments like schools or bars or stadiums to insist on masks, and to restrict attendance to only those who have been vaccinated.

I have to assume it’s stupidity. I really have to assume that there isn’t malice colouring their decision making. Because the stupidity is depressing me enough. I don’t think I could handle the malice angle.

Get fucking vaccinated.

Wear a fucking mask.

De ja F*ck U

Now if I’m totally honest, when my employer told us all to go home last March (2020, of course), I didn’t mind one bit. We are a bit of an insular family, anyway. I got rid of my hour long commute, could barbecue some snags at lunch and got an extra hour sleep at night.

The only negative was the lack of commute on the way home. For real. That hour allowed me to decompress and leave work at work. And I didn’t need an hour to do that. Twenty minutes, max.

This time, though. It can go fuck itself.

Life was essentially back to normal and I was enjoying going back to the office. A new office (new job).

Now the COVID induced lockdown is really grinding my gears. I don’t know what’s different this time, but it can’t be over soon enough.

We’re getting vaccinated and survived (I’ve had my first AZ, my daughter has had both jabs, and within week my son and wife will also be fully vaxed) and I’m hoping, really fucking hoping, that there will be a staged lifting of restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated.

Because I’ve had more than enough of this.

And so have you.

Wear masks, get vaccinated and let’s get this horseshit over with.

Netgalley

This isn’t an advertisement for Netgalley, but it sure is going to sound like one.

I have a publisher’s account at Netgalley. I give them a fair bit of money, and they present my book for review by readers, booksellers, libraries, and the like.

You can join for free, as a reader, if you’d like. Gives you access to literally hundreds of titles, many of them pre-publications, for you to download and read.

There is a catch. We (the publishers / authors) need your reviews.

Something many people don’t realise is that while an author may wince at a “bad” review — that is, a review written by someone who didn’t like the book, for whatever reason — ANY review is better than no review. Reviews trigger the algorithm to boost the book up the charts a bit. Which gets the title in front of more eyes.

If you’re already a member of Netgalley, click on the book cover images on the right hand panel and you’ll be taken to their respective Netgalley pages.

If you’re not a member, by all means, join, and then click on the book cover images on the right hand panel and you’ll be taken to their respective pages ay Netgalley.

And please leave a review at Amazon, KOBO and anywhere else you can find the title.

Thanks!

Batteries Not Included – Update

Nick Harding is an idealistic Private Investigator, trying to eke out a living after a spectacularly boring career in Financial Crimes with the Australian Federal Police.

The very recent widow of the billionaire founder of Dvorak Kars — Australia’s first and only EV manufacturer — hires him to root out the fraud costing what is now her company upwards of $5 million a month over the past year.

Nick reluctantly takes the case — we all have bills to pay — and quickly realises that the beatings, excessive running and cars on fire are barely compensated by the healthy day rate and the opportunity to drive one of the sweet, sweet Dvorak convertibles.

With suspects to spare — the wife, the head of security, the corporate CFO — will he figure out how millions of dollars are disappearing before he runs out of time?

Of course he will.

Available for pre-order now, release date September 1.

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Story Structure

I bang on this a lot, and if the truth be told, this is only a minor component of a good story, but one most often missing.

Stories have a structure. Generally, three acts. There are other structures, but they all resolve, in one way or another, to three acts. There are certain things a reader (or viewer, for movies and television) expects in Act 1. There are things readers and viewers will absolutely not accept in act three. And there are ways a story transitions from one Act to another that make the story more satisfying.

I’ve posted this before on previous incarnations of this or other blogs. I will do it again because I truly believe this is one of the crucial — and amazingly simple — ingredients to stories. I apologise in advance if learning about this ruins stories for you henceforth. You will recognise the end of the first Act and the move into the meat of the second Act. You will see the midpoint turn and feel the all-is-lost moment at the end of Act Two.

But that shouldn’t kill your enjoyment. It adds a layer of entertainment to good books and movies.

If you’re a writer and learning this for the first time, welcome. And recognise that once you know this, you can “forget” it. It will be the scaffolding upon which you hang your story. The real creativity comes in the bits between the plot points.

If you’re of the crowd who firmly believes that acknowledging such a structure exists and that following it will produce cookie-cutter, unimaginative and limp stories, I can only point you to “Witness”, “Breaking Bad” and “The Edge of Tomorrow”, all excellent, inventive and all following this structure. Pretty much every successful novel and movie over the past half dozen decades follow this three-act structure.

A high-level view first, then as the weeks progress, a post for each of the important bits.

As mentioned above, a story is divided into three Acts.

Acts are separated by the First Plot Point (between Acts 1 and 2) and the Second Plot Point (between Acts 2 and 3).

A note on terminology. Some call the first plot point the “inciting incident”, and that’s fine — this isn’t calculus — but for clarity going forward, I don’t.

The Inciting Incident in this model (not my model — it’s been around long before I started writing) occurs in the first 10% to 15% of the story. It’s the thing / event / whatever that triggers what will eventually be the first plot point at the end of Act 1. Like if a box of dynamite explodes to trigger the end of Act 1 and the start of Act 2, the inciting incident is lighting the fuse. Or, in one of my books — G’Day LA — the inciting incident is our protagonist Ellie Bourke discovering her friend and roommate has died, which convinces her to abandon her fledgling acting career and return to Australia. The First Plot Point is Ellie’s realisation that it wasn’t suicide, as the police believe, but a murder. She then abandons her return home to find the killer.

Can’t forget the Hook. Earlier in the story, the better. If you can hook the reader/viewer in the first page/scene, so much better.

In my current WIP, the opening pages have Dan McGinnis, owner of McGinnis Investigations, arriving at the office one Monday morning to find his surveillance expert passed out in a pool of blood in the office kitchen. This drives the rest of the story.

In Act 1, the status quo is defined. What are the protagonist and antagonist doing in their daily lives? What elements of their lives would be put most at risk by taking up whatever the First Plot Point brings them? If at all possible, any characters involved in the Act 3 resolution (which we will get to) should be mentioned, even if in passing, in Act 1.

Now, remember that Act 2 represents the protagonist stepping into what is the meat of the story. The First Plot Point pushes the protagonist out of their status quo into “the story”. You can’t just have the main character say, “okay, let’s go do this,” and expect your reader / viewer to merrily go along for the ride. There should be resistance in Act 1. Resistance to taking that step. Something should hold the protag from launching into the story. So you need something at the end of Act 1 that triggers this launch.

This “something” is the First Plot Point. In G’Day LA, it was the fact that her roommate had booked a career-changing gig, something he’d been dreaming of for years, for the afternoon of his apparent suicide. She then knew she had to do something about it.

Act 2 is generally split into two halves. It takes up roughly 50% of the story pages / viewing time, and this is where the meat of the story unfolds. Obviously, there needs to be an arc through this. The protagonist needs to work through real and fake clues in crime fiction. In romance, the couple must learn about each other, faults and all. I will focus on crime fiction because that’s what I write, but the principles are non-genre specific.

The first half of Act 2 should be an envelope of fog. Get the obvious solutions to the problem out of the way first. Why don’t they go to the cops? The cops have already made up their minds. How are you sure it wasn’t a suicide? The victim’s agent had confirmed attendance on the show just before the alleged suicide.

In the middle of this first half of Act 2, throw in a scene to demonstrate the abject evil of the antagonist. It’s not necessary for the protagonist to know of this evil at this time, it’s enough to show the reader. This is called the First Pinch Point.

But if the protagonist sees it also, so much the better.

Once the obvious has been put to bed, the MC starts down a path that seems like the right thing to do. Maybe based on misinterpreted facts, maybe based on fake facts. But they are invested in their path until

WHAM

they stumble across the “this changes everything” Midpoint. This keeps Act 2 alive. It’s a long Act. A full hour in a two-hour movie. Two hundred pages in a standard novel. The midpoint twist needs to be a logical extension of what has already been explored (and possibly mistakenly discarded). No out-of-the-blue surprises. What it does for your story is restart the investigation. Old clues can be revisited with a different eye. New clues can be brought to light. It’s a whole new story. Sort of.

Much more progress is made, and about halfway through the second half of Act 2, mirroring the First Pinch Point is the Second Pinch Point. It provides a similar purpose as the first but can also be used to show the depths the protagonist will go to defeat the baddie. Embrace it.

It’s not all easy, though. The end of Act 2 plays best when the protagonist is at their lowest, seemingly defeated with nowhere to go. The All is lost moment. This is when the final piece of information gives the hero the path to victory. This final piece of information is The Second Plot Point. And what follows is:

Act 3. This starts with the battle of all battles. Two women enter, and one leaves kind of battle. The kind of battle that, at the end, with the protagonist victorious, seems like it’s over. But there’s one final twist. The “it’s still alive” moment. One final nail left for the coffin. It is a hard slog to the finish with as many relevant obstacles as possible.

When it’s time for the happy ever after (if you’re going that way), it works really well if your final scene mirrors your opening scene as much as possible.

And you’re finished.

Some admonitions:

  • Your hero needs to be a hero. Don’t have them rescued unless that rescue is 100% driven by something the hero has already provided.
  • Don’t add characters, skills, weapons, or anything in Act 3 that drives the conclusion. I read a book recently where the main character threw a fastball with unerring accuracy at a bad guy, hitting him in the head and knocking him out just before he attacked. The fact that he played baseball in college wasn’t revealed until AFTER that throw. That’s cheating. Introduce the baseball career in casual conversation in Act 1.
  • Make sure your transition scenes flow smoothly with scenes that lead up to and out of them. The First Plot Point can’t drop from the sky any more than expertise in baseball can.
  • No fucking cliffhangers. Finish the story. Resolve all threads introduced in the first two Acts. If you want to set up a sequel, fine, but finish the story you started.

If you have any comments, questions, or disagreements, please let me know below.

Reconstruction

Apparently there’s a WordPress Plug-in exploit that allows nefarious bastards to gain access to my site and change shit.

Posts prior to a couple of posts ago have been disappeared. With prejudice.

Fortunately, the way-back machine has archives of some of those posts, so over the next few weeks, or months, I’ll reinstate them.

Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.

AstraZeneca and its Side Effects

I got my first jab last week. There has been a lot of hesitancy about the AstraZeneca vaccine, and the EXTREMELY SLIGHT risk of blood clots.

So I took it upon myself to track the side effects I experience. For the general public’s awareness, you understand.

I received my first AZ jab the morning of 15 July. My side effects follow.

Full disclosure, the belly fat did not disappear.

And I can’t say with absolute confidence that the AZ jab had anything to do with the flatulence.

(I wasn’t hovering — I was taller, but my head wasn’t informed. Easy mistake)

Full disclosure — it was the whiskey.

Get vaccinated, people. It’s painless (literally — I didn’t know I had the jab until the doc told me. Amy, the same.)

Here’s a bit of risk perspective:

Batteries Not Included

Just leaving this here for now…

Coming in September. Sometime…

Nick Harding is an idealistic Private Investigator, trying to eke out a living after a spectacularly boring career in the Financial Crimes Division of the Australian Federal Police.

The very recent widow of the billionaire founder of Dvorak Kars — the first and only manufacturer of Electric Vehicles in Australia — hires him to uncover the fraud costing what is now her company upward of $5 million a month over the past year.

Nick reluctantly takes the case — we all have bills to pay — and quickly realises the beatings, excessive running and burning cars are barely compensated by the healthy day rate, and the opportunity to drive one of Dvorak’s sweet, sweet convertibles.

With suspects to spare — the new widow, the head of security, the company’s CFO — will he figure out how millions are disappearing before he runs out of time?

Of course he will.