One of the cool things about having another writer read your work is they point out things you either never thought of, or they catch silly mistakes, or they make suggestions that you thought of but were to chicken to do anything about.

So it is with The Cross and the Badge. The biggest thing caught is we really have two different, but related books here. The first part runs up to the first Christmas Day. Will Diaz is back home. This is almost Act One in what happens later.

The second book covers an investigative hunt that Will and RJ become involved in.

The suggestion, split it into two books. The working title for the second book is The Dog that Howled at the Moon.

Splitting it in two has some real advantages. One, I get two books out there. The other is that I get to dabble in character development a little more. I’m writing a couple of “bridge” chapters between the two halves, and one of the things established is RJ going off to the police academy. I also have Pam going at the same time. They’re both guitar players, so it’s only natural that they’d start a relationship.

I also get to explore RJ and Will’s past more, and build on Will and Jewell’s relationship.  One of the stories I was going to tell concerned a Cuban national we had a run in with.  In the course of writing that, it started turning into it’s own novel. so someplace on the horizon will be another Will-RJ buddy adventure called The Cuban.

The other is I get to show local politics in action, and I use that to set the background for the “Smokies” event talked about in book two. Think Woodstock with a little Burning Man tossed in, only smaller. All in all, it’s something that started innocently enough but is now out of control. I also use the opportunity to look more into a character mentioned named David Wheaton. Will and RJ consider him the scum of the earth and believe he’s dirty in more ways than one. They’ve no idea what he’s really into and what his ultimate goals are.

It also sets the stage for events in the third book, working title Dead Friends.

So stay tuned.