Confessions Of A Blown Deadline

By John Gilstrap

Well, it’s official. My deadline for submitting my manuscript forย White Smoke, the third book in my Victoria Emerson thriller series was today, and for only the second time in my career, I will not be able to answer the bell. There’s never an excuse for not meeting one’s business obligations, but in my case, there were a number of contributing factors. Not complaining, just explaining.

The Pandemic

We Gilstraps lost the month of December to Covid-19. We got hit hard. I started it with my 14-day run of sickdom, but by the time it ran its course, my wife had spent 8 days in the hospital, including the span from Christmas Eve through January 3. Everyone is well now, but there’s definitely a brain fog that comes with it.

A Two-Stage Move

Last July, we sold our house in Virginia in anticipation of moving into our dream home in West Virginia. The anticipated move date was December 15 (good thing that didn’t happen!). We moved into a 1,200-square-foot apartment with the thought of staying five months. Seven months later, the new place was finally done-ish. Essentially, we moved into a working construction site on March 12. But that was nearly a month after we took possession of . . .

(Fair warning: This could be the sappiest thing I’ve ever written.)


In her own words . . .

My name is Kimber. I am a Cavaston–a mix of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Boston Terrier. My new parents drove all the way up to Pennsylvania to pick me up on February 15. It was cold and I was scared.

I really had two new homes. I had my apartment, and I also had my crate, which I didn’t mind until nighttime came and then I’d get lonely. John told me that I shouldn’t bark for attention because we were in an apartment with neighbors really close. For the first couple of nights, he slept on the floor next to my crate to keep me company, but then he said it was more comfortable to let me sleep with them in their bed. I liked that better. That’s where I sleep every night now. John takes up a lot of room, though.

I had to go to the doctor for a checkup during my first week at the apartment. The doctor was nice, but there’s not a lot of privacy. They stuck me with needles and squeezed me a lot, but they let me eat spray cheese out of a can while they did it, so I didn’t mind all that much.

Not everybody recognizes the origins of my name. John tells me it’s the same as one of his favorite pistols. One day, when we were visiting the new house before we moved in and the heat wasn’t turned on yet, I got cold and climbed inside of his vest. After this picture was taken, John called me his quick-draw puppy.

These days, we’re all moved into the new house and the construction is over with–well, mostly. John complains that the master bedroom closets still aren’t finished. I like living in the country more than I liked living in the apartment. Out here, I get to pee and poo outside instead of on the little pads that I never really hit. (Apparently, you’re supposed to have your back legs on the pad, too. Who knew?)

Country living can be scary. I was playing in the woods just a few days ago and I saw something that looked like it wanted to play with me, but not in a good way. It kept hissing and trying to bite me. I’m really fast, though. I barked and barked, and finally, John came out to see what was happening. The stranger hissed and tried to bite him, too. He got very stern and told me to go back into the house. A few minutes later, I heard a really loud noise. I haven’t seen the stranger since.

I think John’s really happy that I’m around the house. All day long, he sits in a chair in front of a folding thing with buttons on it, but I’m tall enough now that I can jump right up onto the buttons and help him push them. He pretends not to like me doing that, but he always ends up playing with me. Maybe not the first time I jump up, or the second, but sooner or later, he gives in and plays. He said something about not being able to say no to my face.

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About John Gilstrap

John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of Lethal Game, Blue Fire, Stealth Attack, Crimson Phoenix, Hellfire, Total Mayhem, Scorpion Strike, Final Target, Friendly Fire, Nick of Time, Against All Enemies, End Game, Soft Targets, High Treason, Damage Control, Threat Warning, Hostage Zero, No Mercy, Nathanโ€™s Run, At All Costs, Even Steven, Scott Free and Six Minutes to Freedom. Four of his books have been purchased or optioned for the Big Screen. In addition, John has written four screenplays for Hollywood, adapting the works of Nelson DeMille, Norman McLean and Thomas Harris. A frequent speaker at literary events, John also teaches seminars on suspense writing techniques at a wide variety of venues, from local libraries to The Smithsonian Institution. Outside of his writing life, John is a renowned safety expert with extensive knowledge of explosives, weapons systems, hazardous materials, and fire behavior. John lives in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

15 thoughts on “Confessions Of A Blown Deadline

  1. John, I would be hard-pressed to describe how much I love the sappiest thing you have ever written. To heck with the deadlines. Play with Kimber.

    Please thank Kimber for the tip about needing to place your feet on the pads. So that’s what I’ve been doing incorrectly!

    Re: the stranger…(sarcasm alert)…did you really have to kill it? Couldn’t you shoot to wound?

    Thanks for brightening my morning. Hope that the Gilstraps are having a good week.

  2. Love the new family addition! And so glad you ‘disappeared’ the snake. UGH!

    Bummer to miss a deadline but stuff happens. We just have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and go right back to it. Happy Writing!

  3. I woke up to a country song about not missing the important things in life, and they ain’t deadlines. So, essentially, “Cat in the Cradle” with a twang. If deadlines pay for food, rarely miss them, but a day or two of missing writing won’t kill or starve you.

    A very cute puppy. Molly had a bed behind me in my office to keep me company and to remind me I needed to get up when I was getting stiff. Rubbing dog tummy is a very good break.

  4. John, we *solved* the puppy-barking-all-night problem the same way with our Weimaraner. Unfortunately she kept growing. At 90 pounds, she learned a rotten trick. She’d put her back against my husband and her feet against me and push. Bam–out on the floor I’d go.

    • Our previous dog was a Labrador retriever. She slept in our son’s bed when he was age 7 through high school. When the boy was young, it was common to find him sleeping on the floor while JoeDog was sideways on the full size bed.

  5. I loved the explanation as much as I loved the pics of the new pup. Good on you for taking her on in her hour of need while so much else was going on with you. Can’t wait to hear more about Kimber!

  6. Good morning, John!

    Boy, that Kimber can sure write. Maybe he should have his own series: Kimber, the Cross-draw Puppy. It would be great for the pre-school crowd.

    I look forward to many more episodes of Kimber’s adventures in Gilstrap land. (And I’m looking forward to White Smoke too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Life happens, as this post shows, even with deadlines. Now, Kimber, there’s a true blessing. She tells a great story ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m looking forward to more from her, as well you.

    Thanks for brightening our morning with this.

  8. John, this is about the best thing I’ve read in a long while.

    JSB always says that thing about when things get slow, send in a guy with a gun. (And I’m not saying your post is slow . . .)

    It’s just that this morning I have brain swirl going on, trying to figure out what’s next on my release-my-debut-novel plate.

    Sending in Kimber works for me! What a treat to get the juices going, and laugh, and then settle down to my goal for today. I agree that Kimber needs his own writing space. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad to hear health has returned to you and Mrs. G.

    Thanks a bunch! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. John, thanks so much for this! Needed to smile this morning, and you did it. I hope we get to hear from Kimber now and then. Congrats on being well again, and the new digs!

    PS: Working my way through the Jonathan Graves and loving them!

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