Thank you, PJ, for allowing me to visit your blog. I hope you won’t mind if I wander around the hemisphere with this. I notice that one of your topics is “The Best Book I Never Wrote.” Excellent topic—and I have one.
A couple of months ago, I was invited to address high school students. I jumped at the opportunity, then realized this was a new challenge for me. Certainly, my normal spiels would not work. The students would zone out on me quickly. Then, I considered what they could bring to the table that older folks might no longer have. Yeah, energy, but that’s not what I was looking for. What they have that gets stunted by the realities of living life is imagination. Theirs is fresh and uninhibited, not having gone down the dead ends and hit the walls that are yet to come. So, my job would be to stimulate that imagination.
I chose a time travel example. Suppose you could go back in time to the day of Martin Luther King’s assassination. (I chose him because every student gets thoroughly exposed to his life and death.) Suppose you were on the balcony with him, surveying the crowd, then spotted the shooter in the window across the street. You reach to push Dr. King out of the way. What can happen? I went on to lay out four scenarios: 1) You push him away, the bullet misses, and he lives. 2) You push him away, and he tumbles over the railing and falls to his death. 3) You push him, but he’s wounded. 4) You push, but hit air because he has stepped forward. The bullet kills him, but his bodyguards misunderstand your intent.
Take each of these possibilities into the future and imagine its impact on history. How would our country be different? How would your world be different? Yes, I might have been influenced by Stephen King’s 11.22.63. I really don’t know, but my idea worked with the teens. I fielded some interesting comments. And, as I’ve thought back over that day, I discover that I’d really like to write such a book.
One of your other topics is “Writing controversial topics – good or bad idea?” That ties into the above. I suspect that such a book using Dr. King’s death would be extremely controversial. And, while I don’t fear exploring controversial subjects, this is one I’ll probably stay away from. It is difficult in our ultra-PC world of today to write a novel and not touch on someone’s feelings. My critique group is quick to tell me I’ve written something that is not PC. Most of the time I stare at it, not understanding why anyone would take offence. Yet, they see something I don’t.
In my Beth Bowman series, she has a group of allies who are homeless. I single out at least one in each book and give their backgrounds. Some view homelessness as controversial, and might not like my treatment of it.
Another of your topics is “What makes your book/series unique?” I won’t call my stories unique, but the homeless situation is a subject not often explored. I’m not trying to exploit them, but to show them as part of our South Florida population. They are real, but all too often they are invisible. In my latest, DATING DEATH, Beth’s life and actions are once again supported by her homeless friends. Their invisibility (figuratively, not literally) is an asset they use to champion her investigation.
When I saw the topic “Lessons I’ve learned along the way,” I had to smile. I’ve learned so much while writing and publishing a dozen books. I think the number one thing, though, is that no one is born with the talent to write fiction. Some are born with the talent to tell wonderful stories, but writing fiction is an acquired skill. And acquiring that skill requires, among other things, reading, reading, and more reading. When I hear someone say, “I don’t read while I’m writing,” I feel sorry for him or her. First, they are missing so much, and will never be able to get it back. But second, how can they expect to become successful writers if they’re not learning from every book they read. That’s the lesson I offer: Begin reading and never stop.
Promotion has always been (and continues to be) my Achilles’ heel in this business. I’d simply rather spend my time writing than pumping my fist in the air and screaming, “Buy my book!” If someone reads this blog and wants to sample my works, all twelve are available on Amazon. There are three series and one historical. And, after reading, if someone chooses to post a review, I shall be grateful.
Thanks, PJ for allowing me to sound off.
Randy Rawls lives in Delray Beach, Florida, slap-dab in the middle of paradise. Not only is the weather perfect, but the writing environment is ideal.
Before retiring in Florida, Randy grew up in North Carolina, then spent a career in the Army. After retirement, he returned to work with the Department of Defense as a civilian, the aspect of his career that allowed him to live in Texas, and then led him to South Florida. Somewhere along the way, he fell in love with writing. The writing was a natural progression since he has always been an avid reader.
Randy welcomes comments at RandyRawls89@gmail.com.
The Chief of Police of Coral Lakes, FL has the goods on Roger Adamson, a dirty politician. However, the chief knows Adamson has additional information that could bring down a drug lord and disembowel his organization. Chief Elston asks Beth Bowman, a South Florida PI, to assist by becoming Adamson’s consort/bodyguard while Adamson parses out data. Beth agrees, not realizing multiple homicides, a kidnapping, a tight frame for murder, and the loss of the man she loves await her. If not for Beth’s homeless friends, all might be lost.