Busy attorneys find time to spin tales of intrigue, suspense and fantasy

Busy attorneys find time to spin tales of intrigue, suspense and fantasy

Timothy J. McDermott, Tim_McDermott
63, a shareholder with the law firm of Akerman Senterfitt, practices in civil litigation and loves a good story. “I have always enjoyed being creative.  Whether it be in how I approach legal issues in the practice of law, or my avocation of painting  acrylic artwork (www.tmacgallery.com), or my relationships with my family and friends, it is part of my ‘wiring’ to try to be creative. Writing a novel provided me with another avenue to be creative.”

The Nebraska native practiced in Milwaukee and Ft. Lauderdale before landing in Jacksonville. “Having practiced since 1975 in two cities with rather widely-divergent cultures and having enjoyed an interesting client base and practice (complex products cases representing the manufacturing segment) that exposed me to a wide variety of personalities and issues, I decided that if I put my own pen to paper, I might be able to create a good yarn that arose out of my experiences.”
The Ortega resident says, “There are a lot of poor novels out there. I must admit, I figured that I could write as poorly as – and maybe even a bit better – than many of the other writers that were telling their stories.”

Like many part-time writers, McDermott would get up early in the morning and write until 7 a.m., then again in the evenings, on weekends and on vacations spent up in the Florida Panhandle. “I generally wrote it on my PC, although when sitting in a beach chair on the beach, I wrote longhand and then typed that work product into my computer at the end of the day.”

His novel “Deadly Propensity” is a legal thriller that is a fictional and colorful exaggeration of lawyers he has encountered, along with judges, expert witnesses and issues from product cases. “I wanted to tell a good story, however I also wanted to educate the reader a little bit about the rather complicated work up, and the process that both sides of the lawyers must perform and undergo in preparing and trying a serious products case.”

McDermott intends to write another book and while he’s not sure if it will be a Michael Culhane sequel to “Deadly Propensity” or something completely different, he wants to leave the reader feeling good about life when the last page is turned. “I am currently noodling on some ideas flowing from some interesting cases I have had.”
McDermott’s first novel is available via eBook and paperback on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and via eBook on smashwords.com.

Michael G. Tanner,
59,Michael_Tanner has traveled a lot and says that he was motivated to write by the lives of many people he met during multiple mission trips to countries of the former Soviet Union beginning in 1995. “I also love to write,” said the senior Principal at Tanner Bishop. “Hemingway has always been a big influence. His spare style is pleasurable to read – fewer words are better. John Grisham, who is an excellent technician as well as a gifted storyteller, writes in that style.”

The Southbank resident revealed that his initial research took about eight months and it took another 18 months to produce a working draft. “Because this was my first book, I made many mistakes along the way that hopefully I won’t repeat in my next book,” Tanner said. “I used a general outline and I write on the computer. I also read multiple books on writing and took one course. I always wrote early in the mornings (5:30 for an hour each day) and on weekends.”

Tanner’s book “Nikolai Returns” is a mystery novel. “It is based on personal experiences of people I met. I have been to all the venues in the book other than Afghanistan,” he noted. “It’s the story of the spiritual journey of a young man who grew up in the USSR and in post-soviet Russia, beginning with his boyhood, his military experiences and his time in the Russian arms trade.”

“Nikolai Returns” is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

One would think that working as Division Chief, Jacksonville for the State Attorney’s Office would provide much fodder for a book, but
Doug_DorseyDouglas A. Dorsey,
39, said about his novel, “It has zero to do with personal experience and is based solely on the wild ruminations of my mind.”
Wild ruminations, indeed. When you know that Dorsey has spent 13 years as a crime-fighting prosecutor and that his favorite writer is Christian author C.S. Lewis, you begin to understand the basis for Dorsey’s book “Never Alone”. “I like the idea of making a difference in the world,” he said. “One day I hope my son and daughter read the “Never Alone” series and are proud of their dad for demonstrating conviction and faith through writing. If so, that alone will be good enough for me. Well, that plus a brief stint on The New York Times Best Seller list.”

Dorsey is a fast writer; it took him less than three months to write the first 300-plus page novel, which was scribed over coffee in the morning or later at night when his children were asleep. But that’s not always the case. “I actually wrote a huge chunk of my latest novel – Broken Hero – during breaks on a lengthy motorcycle trip,” he shared. “I’d ride for 350-plus miles down open stretches of back roads thinking nothing but storyline, then stop and immediately put all my thoughts down on paper.”

There are seven books in the Never Alone series, which Dorsey describes as Christian Fiction/Suspense. After book number two – “Broken Hero” – is released this fall, the 1992 Bishop Kenny alumnus plans on releasing one book per year until all seven are published. “While I’m thrilled with the storylines of the first six books, I expect the last book is going to be the hardest to put down. I think readers are going to be totally surprised by the final chapter to the Never Alone series.”

Dorsey is grateful for all the support he gets in the writing process. “My favorite part of the writing process is the collaboration that comes when I first turn it over to close friends and family. Some of the best twists and turns in the plot came from the suggestions of the people around me that I trust most,” he said.
A Kindle edition of “Never Alone” is available on Amazon.com.

Jessie_HarrellJessie L. Harrell,
35, said that her first book was a result of a challenge. When her husband, Holt Harrell, joked that picture books couldn’t be very difficult to write, Harrell decided to take an online course to see if he was right.

“I learned about everything in the children’s book market, from board books to young adult (known as YA),” said the San Jose resident. “It didn’t take me long to realize that I use too many words for picture books. And middle grade just didn’t hold my attention that way that YA books did. So I figured if I was going to write a book, that’s where I would focus my efforts.”
The genre of Harrell’s novel “Destined” is YA mythological romance. Though now working as an appellate specialist with the law firm of Creed and Gowdy, Harrell majored in classical studies as an undergrad and her favorite Greek myth was that of Eros and Psyche.

“I decided I would try to re-tell their story but with some modernization,” Harrell said. “I didn’t move the novel into the present (as most retellings are doing), but I used modern dialogue in the ancient setting. I knew this story would resonate with teens if it was easy to read, and fun and romantic.”

With two young daughters, Harrell’s writing time was mostly at night, but she also took her laptop to their gymnastic lessons to sneak in more writing. It took four years to finish the novel, but some of that was due to the learning curve of young adult fiction. “I took time out to learn craft and build myself within the YA community in addition to just writing. I made sure I was involved in the YA community before I asked them to help me sell a book.”

Harrell published “Destined” on her own through Mae Day Publishing, but has also co-written another YA novel with an author in California and has a short story called “I Come Bearing Souls” in the charity anthology “Two and Twenty Dark Tales.”

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