Monday, December 13, 2010

Guest Blogger, Don Brunes

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Don Bruns as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Don’s latest release, DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF (ISBN:978-1-933515-79-3), was just released by Oceanview Publishing. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: “It’s official: stumbling, bumbling James Lessor and Skip Moore are now licensed private investigators.

It’ll take time to get More or Less Investigations off the ground, so James takes a job with a traveling carnival. But this show has a dubious reputation, having had a string of accidents and at least one death.

When they’re hired to investigate the carnival chaos, James and Skip set into motion a dizzying, roller-coaster chain of events. But when a carnival worker is murdered, it’s clear that James and Skip are next in line, and this investigation is going completely off the rails.”

Don has stopped by today to talk about writing and how his book came about.

"Don't Sweat The Small Stuff is one of the funniest books of the year, no sweat."  This from the New York Journal Of Books, Dec 6th, 2010.
I didn't start out to write a funny book.  When I started the Stuff  series, I intended to write a mystery about two grown up Hardy Boys. So I found a couple of 24 year old best friends who partied a little too much in college, got bad grades, dead end jobs, and were looking for a way out. They found it by buying a used box truck and starting a moving company. 
So far, not that funny, right? Well, in STUFF TO DIE FOR the boys find a severed finger with their high school class ring on it in the first load they carry, and that leads to an international incident with Cuba. There are dead bodies, James almost gets killed, Skip thinks his girlfriend may be pregnant...still not so funny.
So, I turned in the book, my publisher loved it and I immediately started writing the sequel, STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF. This tale has the boys turning the truck into a kitchen where they serve meals to hungry parishioners who are attending a revival tent service in Miami. The minister, Reverend Preston Cashdollar, is not as holy as he appears. Again, dead bodies, threats on my protagonists' lives...not that humorous.
However, as I turned in my second manuscript, the first book arrived on the shelves. The reviews were unbelievable. Library Journal said "This quirkily engaging mystery is a buddy novel as funny as the movie Dumb and Dumber."   What?
Foreward Magazine said "James and Skip are so puppy-dog endearing and funny that they deserve an encore. Perhaps even a series. Like the Hardy Boys." Funny?
The Lincoln Journal Star said the story was a "twisty and humorous ride." 

So now I was writing humor. And I had no idea. James Moore and Skip Lessor are funny guys. I got that. I had a partner in a
standup comedy act right out of college, and we played the Playboy clubs, Vegas, lounges and we were funny. Maybe mildly amusing would be more accurate. But, we zinged each other all the time, trading quips, firing funny and insulting lines to members of our audience. The reviewers caught that same energy in James and Skip. I thought it was just the way people interacted, especially two close friends. Others saw it as very funny. Publisher's Weekly went on record saying "Be prepared for laugh out loud moments."
I found a cast of supporting characters that really do exist, and plots that are based on true stories. The reviewers found them crazy. Booklist gave STUFF TO DIE FOR a starred review, saying "Will remind the reader of Tim Dorsey's cast of whacked-out characters but with the narrative voice and feel of Mark Twain's Huck Finn."

Whacked out characters? They were based on real people.
And finally, The New York Journal Of Books says "There is a great natural chemistry between the two protagonists, and a zany originality in the storylines to make the Stuff books compulsive reading." I thank them, but the stories come right from the news. Zany originality?
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF is about a carnival, a midget named Winston Pugh who owns a petting zoo, and an old English sheep dog. Everybody finds this amusing. They are finding it hilarious that the boys get their P.I. license from the Florida Department of Agriculture. Hey...that's seriously where you get it! This is Florida.
So I'll keep writing about real people and real situations, and my readers can keep laughing. Laughing out loud. I didn't even know I was writing humor. But it is kind of fun.

Don, thanks for guest blogging here today. Sometimes characters just take over and it seems James and Skip have done that. Humor and mystery and a great combination.

A bit of background on Don. Besides being a novelist, he’s also a songwriter, musician, and advertising executive, who lives in South Florida. He is the author of STUFF TO SPY FOR, STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF, STUFF TO DIE FOR, BAHAMA BURNOUT, ST BARTS BREAKDOWN, SOUTH BEATH SHAKEDOWN, BARBADOS HEAT, and JAMAICA BLUE.  For more information, check out Don’s website at


  1. Thanks for a great guest, Mason. I've witnessed Don's sense of humor and talent at a couple of mystery conventions. It makes me chuckle to think he didn't realize he was writing humor. A very nice surprise for the author as well as his readers.

  2. I love that the humor sneaked up on you, Don! Sounds like it's REAL humor...that comes from the characters and the situations they're in. I'm looking forward to reading your books...thanks for hosting Don, Mason!

  3. Funny! The best humor is the stuff that's not forced, so if Don didn't set out to write humor, that's probably a really good sign.

  4. Don, I must have this book. I love to read "funny" especially when it is a part of life. I'm a walking funny bomb so I understand humor that comes with life. I also love the dog in your photo.

    Mason, Thanks for hosting.

  5. Mason - Thanks for hosting Don.

    Don - I think the most hunourous book are those that don't start out to be funny. Forced humour simply isn't funny. Your book sounds interesting and I love the title. I wish you much success with it.

  6. It's interesting how so much of your work stems from reality. Isn't it amazing how real life supplies us the very best material when we write? I guess there's something so relatable about it.

  7. Don, thanks for stopping by and sharing your story with us. Not starting out to write humor, you've done well.

    Patricia, I've listened to a few of his music samples and loved them. I can image in person he would be quite entertaining.

    Elizabeth, Vicki, Teresa, Margot and Joanne, thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. I like a good read with mystery with humor. Some dark comedies are fun to read too. Its great you have that part of your life you can reach into for inspiration. Best wishes for your success Don and nice meeting you.

  9. OK, this sounds like the kind of book I love to read. I'm going to start with the first one. Thanks.

  10. Just waving hi to Don, a SleuthFest friend. But now that I'm in Colorado, I have to wave harder so he'll see me.

    Hi, Don!

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  11. How funny that Don didn´t realize how funny his books were :D

  12. The best kind of humor is the kind that's related to actual life. It's even funny how the humor showed up when Don didn't expect it. :)

  13. I like the sound of these books. And just hearing the description they sound like funny books. Moore and Lessor? For starters, that's pretty funny. Good to hear about Don and his books.

    Tossing It Out

  14. Don didn't set out to write something funny - now that's comedy!

  15. These are my kind of books! What is more "whacked-out" than the real characters we meet in life?
    Thanks for the interview.

  16. I love funny books. I'm going to check it out!

  17. If that is not funny writing, I don't k now what is. Strange that he started out not intending to be funny. Quite a gift to make people laugh!

  18. If that is not funny writing, I don't k now what is. Strange that he started out not intending to be funny. Quite a gift to make people laugh!

  19. Hi Mason and Don .. sounds intriguing & no wonder it's so 'real life' as you're basing it on your own experiences - seems a little silent movie theme like .. we laugh at the most odd things!!

    Cheers - a good read ahead - Hilary


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.