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  • Brian Peterson

I Need a Title!

I’ll hit on several quick topics and begin with the personal side of life. Additionally, another excerpt from my upcoming novel will be included at the end of this post.

My wife and I are recovering from our little encounter with the pandemic—a slow, frustrating recovery. Okay, maybe not so little. We found out later my wife had a large blood clot in one of her lungs—we only knew she had a bunch of small ones in both—and was given a 30% chance of not surviving. I told her not to worry about it: that’s a 70% chance of survival.

There are a lot of little symptoms which hang around; I’m about tired of this whole taste and smell thing. I want Dr. Pepper to taste normal.

I love writing (obviously), and I have written short stories, screenplays, and novels. The toughest part of the process (not including marketing) is coming up with a strong title. The working title of Dead Dreams was I See the Future, from a line in the dialogue. That’s an ugly title. Finally, my wife and I sat in our back yard and only discussed titles for an hour or so. Once I spoke the words “Dead Dreams,” it clicked.

Now I have the same dilemma. I won’t list them all out, but I’ve gone from the working title of Paper Doll to a bunch of separate options. I am quite the decisive person… until it comes to naming my stories (or ordering at a restaurant). I’ve considered dozens of options. Paper Doll was the name of my great-uncle’s plane; he was a gunner in the Eighth Air Force in Europe.

The upcoming novel is a true story which demanded lots of research, so a couple of pages in the back of the book will include my sources. When I used information, I had to give credit so I am not profiting off of someone else’s work without giving credit. Also included will be an Afterword to let the reader know what became of the main characters in the story, as well as explanations of such matters as my great-grandmother’s premonitions (she had them frequently, and they play a role in the story).

My great-uncle told me stories of being in the Pacific Theater (Leyte and Okinawa) as a surgical technician. In order to write about it, I had to research what a field hospital looked like and how it operated and have the knowledge to describe and intelligently explain various aspects of his encounters. My other great-uncle in the story flew in B-24 Liberators, so I had to research how the crew acted and operated during bombing missions, describe what the inside of the plane looked like, and describe being under attack from German flak and fighter planes, which I learned about from numerous veterans. One cool bit of research was going inside one of the two remaining Liberators.

I researched the US economy during the Depression, the rise of Imperial Japan, and events happening in the US, Germany, and Japan at the same time the story takes place. I read up on weapons, tactics, the history of the Eighth Air Force, weather conditions on certain dates when applicable, and what various places looked like during the 1930s and ‘40s.

Not being a historian, this was certainly different for me. It was challenging, and I have greater respect for people who write historically-based books.

In the meantime, the best things you can do before the novel goes on sale (and it IS a novel; it is written just like other novels—it is NOT a history book) is to follow me at Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, tell your friends about my books and have them follow me. With each novel I publish, I am building momentum, but I have to greatly increase my readership with each book.

For those who enjoy science fiction, after I publish and market this current novel, I will be writing a sci-fi trilogy. More on that much later.

The next time you hear from me, the manuscript will be with the professional editor I have hired.

Until next time, stay healthy. Let’s hope and pray 2021 is a better year.

Brian W. Peterson

Somewhere on the edge of the Great Plains

Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Paper Doll:

* * *

Carl was sick of being sick. While not literally true, by his calculations he had gotten sick every winter the last decade. He was a man of the north; a descendant of the Norse; but, he did not feel like it each winter when the cold north winds blew in the flu or pneumonia. In this instance, the latter ailment devoured him like a polar bear eating a seal; but, his difficulty breathing could not eclipse his disgust at getting sick every Minnesota winter.

Spring was coming. The houseflies which had made their way into the small cabin proved the northern climate was changing, about to leave Old Man Winter behind.

Married in May of 1939, Carl wanted a place for his bride; living with Mother was not an option. Living with Hap, which he had done less than ten years prior, was unthinkable given that Hap now had eight children. The need led to the only reasonable conclusion: he built a one-room cabin for he and his bride to live. The 300-square-feet cabin sufficed for the newlyweds. A “bedroom” in one corner, a “kitchen” in another, this newlywed cabin made Anne happy. They were married; they lived alone; they had what they wanted from life. They both knew people who had less.

He could have rented a house in Bemidji, but work was not a year-round undertaking for Carl unless he could find himself a job which continued through the snow and extreme cold. He needed a cabin he could build with his own hands, owe no one, and live out the winter. If he could find work nearby, all the better. Once he found and purchased the land he needed, the rest was simple for the lumberjack. The cabin was completed in time for the Puposky cold season.

Carl possessed skills; this small cabin, with a fireplace to keep them warm, proved the point.

Now, in late winter/early spring of 1940, Carl focused on his one problem: he was bored. He was bored and sick. Flat on his back with pneumonia, an unseasonably warm day prompted the houseflies to hatch. They buzzed around him until his boredom evolved into annoyance.

Across the room from the bed, closer to the currently dormant fireplace, Anne worked on a bedspread she was crocheting. Alone with herself, she snapped out of her deep thoughts when she heard the .22 bolt-action rifle chamber a round. She froze. Crocheting could wait. She eyed Carl just for a moment when the blast filled the room.

“Got ya, ya little bastard.” Carl’s angry words flowed through a soft, smooth tone.

Anne watched in silence.

Another fly, startled by the cacophony created by the Springfield Model 1922 Rifle, landed on the gabled ceiling. The exposed logs had perfectly absorbed the first .22 caliber bullet, leaving only small splinters as signs of the shot. Carl paused to ensure the housefly would not move at an inopportune moment.

Anne kept her tongue as Carl took aim. The next small explosion created the same result:

“Got ya, ya little bastard.”

The silence lasted a long five seconds before Anne could not help herself. Her over-sized laugh erupted. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen you do!” she roared.

Carl looked at her with a frown. “I’m sick of those damned things!” He watched her bellow with laughter until he could not resist. He followed her into a laughing binge, which led to a horrible, dry coughing binge.

“That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen you do!” Anne boomed as she repeated herself.

Carl fought off additional laughter, wanting to avoid the painful coughs. Before he could speak, he spotted another fly as it landed on the ceiling. He chambered another round and fired. A third fly disappeared. The explosion of gunfire caused Anne to laugh even harder.

* * *

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