KISS OF THE COBRA, Number eight in the Detective John Bowers procedurals is on its way end of month February. It's another day, another Mickey Mouse IT session for cops capped by a Home Coming call—somebody's down, bloody and dead. This time around, for John and his partner Minola Raye, it's a young woman on her own for the first time, following all the rules her mother taught her about staying safe in a dangerous world. It only takes one innocent mistake for the Devil to breach the barricades. And her killer isn't finished as more victims fill the Precinct whiteboard.

John and Minnie have reached a plateau in their relationship, a tamer more comfortable one with both married and Minnie the mother of twin girls. The wrinkle to be ironed out is that one of her twin girls is the biological child of her partner, not her husband. As per usual, the lowest rating on John's resume is his ability to read women. Not a talent easily acquired.

This was a returning joy for me. John Bowers tinkers with my mind as time flies by, and he scratches to get out of my brain. That's the real miracle of fiction writing. It doesn't send you to the online library tomes for research, it opens doors in your brain and lets the story roll. Wannabes ask me most often how I figure out an ending to the plot. I gotta simple answer: "I don't." Whatever's in there just cranks open the water-tight door and flows out like open bar booze at an Elks' Convention. I had a buddy who wanted to write a book. A bucket list thing. So he started out okay: Chapter One. He'd already told me he was writing about a Presidential kidnapping. Sounded great! Murder, mystery, romance, backstreet politics. Then I got the late night visit with Mr. Droopy Eye.

"It's a mess. not right at all. I quit writing cuz it just kept turning out all wrong, not what I was writing about."

Sounded like good news to me. "What are you writing about instead of your original plot?"

He shook his head like my golden retriever climbing out of the lake. "Not close, no way. I started out okay, and then the Presidential candidate started an affair with his aide, and then I found out he's been embezzling money, and he falls in love with his shrink to save his career, and then everything just got upside down, and I started writing about psychoanalysis and . . . oh, shit."

"So what's your new title?"

By this time, his head was in his hands. "I woke up one morning, and it just sorta popped into my head. "Mind Games".

I reassured him that the book was there all the time, lying in wait for him to open the door. He wasn't convinced, and I think he missed out on an opportunity to be a real, live author. A scribbler of note perhaps. So disappointing. For real—he became an AMWAY guy. A truly tragic end.

See what John and Minnie are up to this time around, Feet up, fave bev on the arm of your recliner and take a trip with Portland's favorite detectives. Any questions or requests. wait a bit for Number Nine Rainy Day Rules.

Two books out together creates extra labor but worth it.

A COLD KILL with Detective John Bowers is out. Number 7 in the series, and as usual it has the familiar recipe of murder, bloody scenery, realistic forensics, sex, drama, humor here and there (mostly here) along with John's ongoing quest to figure out female tactics. He's not nearly there yet.

Give it a read and catch up with what John, his partner Minnie Ray and the DA's office step over as the dead bodies fall. Check out the video as well. Guaranteed to be ad free.

OLD WIVES' TALES, Bedtime Stories Grandma Never Told You

It's here. Check out the video and excerpts. I love a video that needs a pre-screen warning "not appropriate for some viewers". If you ever wondered, or why the hell haven't you wondered, what lollies used to get up to when you weren't even a flicker in Grandpa's eye, these older gals will enlighten you. Bawdy bedroom stories, hookers, strippers, winners and losers in love, romance, sex and OMG did Granny do that?!!

Of all the vices in the world, why sex that's just for fun, profit, hobby pursuits, titillation or commercial sales is hush hush is a mystery. Sex is the most basic, universal occupation of all us creatures on this orbiting dirt ball. Any ubiquitous habit can be criminalized, I guess. Ask the tiger that tried to eat Roy. Normal activities true to the species can turn violent and criminal, but just ordinary sex, perversion like foot fetishes and rape don't belong in the same No No Mustn't category the Puritans dreamed up. I mean, really. With no TV, no Texting, no pole dancers or hi-test juice, what did those folks do at night? Study the Good Book? Really? In the dark? Of course, they did just what every human on the planet does with long, dark nights and no neighborhood video porn shop.

I can never understand why the younger generations seem to think their old grannies and grandpas never had any fun with their drawers down. Seems a bit unseemly to think of it. But how do they think they got here? Nothing new has been added to the Sex for Dummies handbook since Adam and Eve were dating.

Enjoy a trip through interviews with older gals who did it all in their youth, or even a bit more. If you have the guts and a willing Granny, you might even want to have a sit down and pull the curtains aside. Bet she'll have a thing or two to teach you about what she fantasizes about at night. And bets are she'll love telling you all the raunchy details since you'll probably be the first person to give a hoot.

Back on the Beat with A COLD KILL, Number 7 in the Series

It's a homicide case with more questions than answers for Detective Sergeant John Bowers. His partner Sergeant Minnie Rae is birthing twins so John is working with Max Bando, the carrot-top detective who has to carry a napkin in his back pocket instead of a handkerchief. Lots of folks don't like lawyers. But when one is shredded like coleslaw in his uptown office, it turns out maybe there's a cold case in the background.. And in the middle of it all, John's number two ex, Doris, is back. And natch, John hasn't a clue where the landmines are. It's another case of catch up for the homicide detectives from Barbies to Bandidos. One interesting thing about writing a series is watching your characters grow and develop into virtual acquaintances. We all know the story of the author who got so wrapped up in his virtual world, he wandered off the grid. A little quirky maybe, but many of us scribblers can identity with the dilemma. It's hard when we become so attached, maybe even a little in love with our protagonists that we feel betrayed when they veer off the course we've set for them. But that is really the miracle of creating them in the first place. After all, they are all peopled from our intimate experiences with real people who are anything but set in cement. At my first John Bowers book signing for Blue Butterfly, the first Bowers book, I was gobsmacked by all the takes on my characters. I thought I was just channeling the fuzz balls in my brain, but, as it turned out from listening to my readers, they had drawn all sorts of side plots, motives and perspectives on their own. Where I thought I had created a sympathetic, windmill tilter, many saw him as a Rocky Balboa. Where'd that come from? And my hero who sacrificed a lot to arrive at the basic Golden Rule morphed into a steely-hearted s.o.b. who sold out after struggling with his soul. What? The upside was that they all loved the guy and swore they knew him. Fact was, a lot of folks were certain he was drawn from real life. "So you worked with this guy, right?" "Is he still with the Portland PD and what does he think of the book?" "Did John retire and actually write this under your name or what?" I was finally forced to explain the definition of fiction to more than a few. Who cared if they drew different virtual people from what I'd scripted? They all liked the big guy for different reasons. The experience taught me a valuable lesson for a newbie. It's impossible, and if somehow it becomes possible to write characters who are seen in only one view and heard in only one voice, they will never become fleshed-out folks, warts and all. Consistent formulaic stories with cut-out figures guarantee that only those rare readers who never consider coloring outside the lines will fall in love with your heroes and heroines. I figured out that fictional characters have to come in many-faceted shapes to reach a broad spectrum of folks who like to set themselves inside the virtual world you've created. The bonus from the book signing was that several of my readers enlightened me as to the depth I'd sort of taken for granted or rather just underestimated. The more tightly you draw a character, the more restrictive the readers' imagination to build their own sand castles. Real people who exhibit these constraints are branded as anal, rigid bastards you pray will never be your seatmate on a long flight. So despite the many takes that John Bowers and his cast at Central Precinct come up with, he always plays to folks of different stripes. He's sexy to some (an eighty something gal reading Babylon Blues in the Atlanta Airport clued me in) and a big teddy bear to ladies who swear he's as easy to see through as cellophane, and to street cops and Semper Fi guys, he's just the kind of heavy they can look up to. Just like the rest of us, he's whatever he needs to be to deal with the situation at hand. He's normal and has as many sides as a pretzel, Probably why when I get to my keyboard to let loose another episode of the series, I just relax and let him take the reins. I trust him to lead the way. And that's why I think I'm in love with the dude.