I started my first book, The Savannah Project, all the way back in 1998 when I first started writing. Of course, back then, there were a multitude of possible working titles until about 2008, when I finally settled on the title. 2008, you ask? Yep, it took twelve years and several rewrites to reach a completed first draft! In all fairness, I did take a little hiatus in there–to the tune of about 7 years.
With the encouragement of a friend, I started writing in 1998. I thought I was on a role, it was great, in my mind I had a second career all lined up! And I was enjoying the writing and I was full of excitement and enthusiasm. Several story themes were rolling around in my brain. I wanted to, and felt obliged to, write something with aviation in it–after all, I had been in the aviation industry since 1978, either as a pilot, flight instructor, or air traffic controller.
I was dedicated to my writing, squeezing in every minute I could between a full-time job in ATC and being a newly-divorced dad with joint custody of 3 young kids. But it was working and I was writing, although, in retrospect, I didn’t really know what I was doing. But, I digress.
In late March of 1999, my next-door neighbor fixed me up on a blind date with a woman she knew from her (and her husband’s) business. We met for lunch and–well, let’s just say writing took a back seat to fathering and my new love interest. Thus, the beginning of the 7-year hiatus. In January 2000, we got married, and it’s been a fun adventure ever since. Still married, you do the math!
Eventually, I felt my writing was an unfinished project, so I picked it back up and read it again for the first time in 7 years. To say it sucked, is being extremely polite. I hit delete and started over–5 times! Yes, the current version of The Savannah Project is the sixth complete rewrite. Of course, I was learning something each time. The story changed a little each time, but not much, as I had meticulously outlined from beginning to end–equipped with all the twists and turns. I joined a critique group, big learning curve there, at the suggestion of NY Times bestselling author Steve Berry (the same critique group he had been in years before). There is actually another funny story there, but I’ll save it for another time. I had two different editors and some first-time beta-readers to help along the process. Eventually I got there–obviously. Something to be said for perseverance.
One last thing and I’ll stop boring you with background. This is the first in the Jake Pendleton series. (and Gregg Kaplan is a major character) As I neared completion of The Savannah Project, I planned to do 2 more Jake books and then start of new spinoff series with Gregg Kaplan as protagonist. Then I would alternate between a new Jake book and then a new Kaplan book, and so on. I’m pleased to say, I actually stuck to that plan! So here’s The Savannah Project:
The truth can be a dangerous thing.
Terrorism, duty, and personal safety collide when Jake Pendleton, an investigator for the NTSB, is called to investigate an aircraft accident in Savannah, Georgia during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The accident, which at first appears to be quite run-of-the-mill, turns out to be anything but. Since Jake is not willing to pretend there are no suspicious circumstances and more than the usual share of rather unlikely “coincidences,” he sets off a veritable avalanche of secrets, violence and treachery. Aided by an unlikely partner, Gregg Kaplan, the air traffic controller who was the last person in contact with the airplane that crashed, Jake sets out to untangle the webs of deceit and to find a vicious killer.
Nothing is as it seems, nobody is who you thought them to be.
Nothing is sacred.
Nobody is safe.