AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

April 8, 2009

Down to the last detail, Mike Sheeter polishes “Preferred Customer”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 4:47 am


This week a Mike Sheeter thriller is up at Beat to a Pulp, and what an action-packed, snake-back mikesheeter_bxp35781s1ride it is! When Mike emailed me yesterday, the idea dawned to share some working correspondence we’ve traded during the course working on “Preferred Customer” together. Mike is great to work with, as accommodating as he is accomplished. He’s very generously given me permission to share the following emails as a window on the working relationship between an editor and writer. Questions and comments are welcomed.


January 6, 2009


Hi Elaine,

Happy New Year to you, too, and thanks very much for your kind words about “Preferred Customer.”  I’ll be delighted to speak with you at your convenience, but perhaps we might do it before the weekend.  I’m shackled to my keyboard every day, so just let me know when you’d like to chat, and I’ll be sure to pick up.


I learned what little I know about international banking when I was doing some freelance editorial work in Santa Monica. A client of mine published a grim little journal called Terrorism, Revolutionary Violence and Counter Insurgency Review, for the Rand Institute.  He assigned me to work with an ex-Green Beret officer, who had written a 200 page treatise about the latest trends in international money-laundering, whimsically entitled “The Urgency of Detergency.” According to this fellow, some of Noriega’s former bankers set up an outlaw banking  operation similar to the one I described but they were headquartered in Asuncion, Paraguay, and as far as I know, they only fleeced drug dealers.


To add insult to injury, they capitalized their new venture with the (drug) money Noriega and his cronies stole when they nationalized the Bank of Panama. In any case, ever since 9/11 the offshore banks have become very leery of dealing with North Americans, with the real world exception of a few banks in Nigeria,  Dubai, the U.A.E. and the People’s Republic of China.


The European offshore banks in the Hebrides, Switzerland or Lichtenstein,  flatly refuse to open accounts for individual Americans. Anyplace else… the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Seychelles. the Caymans, Costa Rica… they’ll cheerfully open your account record for the IRS or any other alphabet agency that asks. So there’s the problem.  If you want to stash your ill-gotten gains, you have to venture pretty far afield, and be prepared to do business in places where they don’t like Norteamericanos much.


Oh well, maybe they’ll start liking us better in 15 days or so, huh?


Mike Sheeter


Hi Mike!

Do you have enough juice left to stomach another idea about Preferred Customer’s ending? David and I were having a talk and we both agreed that when the shark bumps Dave’s leg, it’s a very powerful and ominous moment in the story. It conjures such an image of him being eaten, that we thought it would be a terrific image to end the story on. I have simply rearranged a few paragraphs at the end of the story, so it ends with Dave [the main character]. The writing is all your own. Would you give it a look and tell us what you think? We don’t want to change it without your approval. I look forward to hearing from you.




————– Original message from Elaine Ash <>: ————–  Hi


Mike, hope you are doing well!

I liked the [additional] small changes you made to “Preferred Customer.” I had to revise some italics that didn’t qualify as internal dialogue, but instead were simple narration, which is not italicized.  Two things: I think we should just say “a bank”  instead of  Bank of America, because the company may not wish to be associated with an international banking scam, even if it’s just a story. Is Banco De La Moneda Extreanjera in Caracas, a real entity? If so, can you change the name slightly to avoid the same problem as B of A? However, I like the flowery, foreign name spelled out because it lends authenticity to the story.

Have a great weekend,

Elaine Ash


On Sun, Feb 22, 2009 at 5:58 PM, <mikesheeter


Hi Elaine,

I’m pleased you like the changes.  As to the Bank of America issue, it’s Milt Medenbach who is the malefactor  and the BoA is quite blameless.  As a matter of fact, Dave Manfred fears their diligence, and to me, if there’s no imputation of wrong doing on their part, it’s a non-issue whether or not they like the way they’re portrayed. (Besides, the bastards seldom get my checks to me on time.)


On the other hand, using a real, recognizable name tends to anchor the story in concrete reality.  However if you feel strongly about the matter I could live with being a little vague abut what bank Milt has been using. (Besides… BoA may be out of business or nationalized by the time the yarn sees print.)  You could call it something like the Wheelright Bank or the Artisans and Mechanics bank if you like. The Venezuelan Bank’s name is fictional, but I’m told, idiomatically correct.  I hope you’ve had a great weekend yourself, and I must say, I’m really impressed with your and BTAP’s professionalism and diligence.




————– Original message from Elaine Ash <>: ————– 


Wow, you had me fooled with that Venezuelan bank’s name. Very realistic! BoA is only mentioned once and instead of making up a name, it looks just fine to simply say  the bank  in reference to the American account. Works fine. Glad you are impressed. I know I can be a pain in the ass, but it will all pay off when the kudos start coming in for your story. We are expecting enthusiastic comments for  Preferred Customer,  and we get around 500 unique visitors per week and climbing.



Monday, April 6, 2009 

Hi Elaine,

I’m honored to have a story of mine in Beat To A Pulp, and very grateful to you and David for your editorial guidance and the kind words. Please thank him for me, will you? Actually, I’m working on a screenplay right now, an  adaptation. What else… I have a couple of stories hanging fire just now.  I’ll see if one or more of the other trunk dwellers might be salvageable.


You and David upgraded Preferred Customer so markedly, I’m tempted to send you my whole damned oeuvre, including the syllabus I once wrote for  one of the South’s most prestigious barber colleges.

All my best,






  1. It’s always interesting to see the kind of “weird” connections that writers make and that work their way into their fiction. It’s all grist for the mill as they say.

    Comment by Charles Gramlich — April 8, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  2. Is it legal for me to have – offshore companies explained here?, and bank accounts? How to start? Can I move my existing business offshore


    Comment by offshore — August 18, 2009 @ 5:14 am

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