BEYOND RECOGNITION By Ron Corbin

RonBioPhotoThe Best Book I Never Wrote

 

I was born and raised in LeRoy, Kansas (pop. 500), a small farming community in the southeastern part of the state. Located on the Neosho River, I had a great childhood, with almost every day emulating the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I wrote a collection of short stories about my childhood twenty years ago and presented a copy to each of my children so they would know what “ol’ Dad did as a kid.” It was titled, “Why All the Elm Trees Died.”

 

And the “answer” contained within that title was… that as a mischievous child I got so many whippings with an elm switch, that the all the bark was stripped from the town’s trees and caused them to die. Actually, all the trees did die dues to a disease of some type, but my kids think it was from dad’s spankings.

 

Writing Controversial Topics – Good Or Bad Idea?

 

Personally, I think writing on controversial subjects are good for promoting sales. It’s like people discussing politics. People who agree with your ideas will likely recommend the book favorably, just like they do in voting for a certain elected official. And those who don’t agree with your writing will talk about or complain to their friends, which I think that inadvertently promotes your books to those who want to see for themselves. In either case, it gets people talking about your literary intrigue.

 

What Makes Your Book/Series Unique?

 

Like most memoirs, many “unknowns” were shared in my book. One aspect of writing this was that it served as a means of closure for the survivor’s guilt I experienced for thirty-six years.

 

Primarily though, following a training accident of one of their helicopter crashes that killed the trainee, I obtained a copy of the transcripts for the department’s accident investigation findings. With this document, writing my book exposed a city and/or department cover-up, supervisory betrayals, and botched techniques in the LAPD’s Board of Inquiry post-accident investigation. As an example, although the NTSB investigator on scene submitted a formal report of the accident. Yet as the instructor pilot and sole survivor of the accident, here it is forty years later and I am still waiting to be interviewed by the NTSB.

 

Written and published so long after the fact, it was also a way of explaining to my fellow pilots and observers of what really happened on that fateful day. Knowing that a lot of rumors and speculation as to what caused my helicopter crash circulated among the officers assigned to the air unit, I wanted a little vindication. Being thrown “under the bus” by the chief pilot without being able to defend myself, writing Beyond Recognition was a way to tell “my side of the story.” It also provided some truthful answers to the widow of my trainee who had been misled as to what happened.

 

Lastly, in my book I shared some details as to how I coped with the recovery of my burns, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Optimistically, I would like to think that it will provide some means of hope to other burn victims or trauma survivors; even though there is a long road to recovery, that life does have something left for them.

 

Your Favorite Promotion Strategy

 

With my burn scars plainly visible on my arms and face, this is to my advantage as it typically causes notice from all people that I come into contact with. Although few inquire as to my injuries, it gives me the opportunity to discuss my helicopter accident, which leads into the mentioning of my book. Then I can leave a business card promoting my book, or tell them where they can order it. This works at most of my daily activities; doctors’ and dentists’ offices, auto mechanics, grocery stores, etc.

 

Being from Las Vegas, I also had some personalized “casino chips” designed that displayed my book cover on one side, and the URL to my Website along with a photo of an LAPD helicopter on the other. I have passed-out these in lieu of business cards. And they seem to be a more favorable option in generating attention.

 

I have also provided, for people who buy my book, a raffle contest. The award being a chance to win one of my other book anthologies.

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Beyond Recognition is a “fact-based account” of the memoirs of Ronald Corbin, a former Army combat helicopter pilot and Vietnam veteran who FinalCoverDesignbecomes a Los Angeles Policeman, and eventually a pilot for LAPD’s Air Support Division.

Compared to other pilots in the unit who had received their flight training from local airport operators, Ron’s’ military training and unique combat flying experience as a “Slick” Huey pilot, and his wide background as an instructor pilot in various helicopters, goes beyond recognition of some of the old timers at Air Support. He immediately becomes the target of jealousy by the unit’s chief pilot, Joe Claridge, whose animosity leads him to do everything he can to undermine Ron’s reputation, and ultimately “railroad” him out of the unit.

However, Ron’s flying ability is eventually recognized by the ASD Captain and Training Sergeant. He is selected to become an instructor pilot in the unit, much to the objection of Joe who feels that Ron hasn’t had enough experience in the unit. After becoming one of the unit’s instructor pilots under Joe’s supervision, Ron soon finds himself going head-to-head with Joe over differences of opinion in training objectives for new police pilots. Ron quickly grasps the fact that Joe is nearing the end of his career and is actually afraid to fly. To hide his fear, Joe bows-out of certain missions that may be a little more “hazardous.” The stress Ron goes through with Joe causes Ron to have flash backs of some of the fear and horror of his Vietnam flying.

After an aircraft accident that claims the life of Ron’s police pilot trainee, Jeffrey Lindenberg, and one which puts Ron in the hospital with 70% burns, the LAPD Chief of Police assembles a Board of Inquiry into the cause of the accident. Joe sees his opportunity to seek jealous revenge on Ron by feeding misleading statements to the Board investigators that suggest blame on Ron and Jeffrey. The investigation eventually evolves into a “kangaroo court” and seeks to place unjustified blame on Ron. But the Board’s exercise in “finger-pointing” quickly backfires as Ron exposes a “cover-up” that has corporate and City attorneys scrambling to make a settlement.

AFTER THIRTY YEARS–WHY AM I STILL A WRITER? by Radine Trees Nehring

100_0766-BWe’ve all heard for years that rejection by agents and publishers can be a huge problem for writers. Relief came with the development of self-publishing technology. Details on the numbers of self-published books vary widely, but range up to one third of all books available today. However, with so many books available, (2,700,245,640 individual units sold in 2014–and that 2 is two billion), it’s obvious bookstores and libraries must cut stocking lists to a manageable size. So where do they start cutting? Self-published books are the first things cut or ignored completely. Yes, it is possible for a self-published author to achieve stocking in their home area stores, but stocking is iffy otherwise unless something about that book has brought it into general public interest.

One problem? Self-published books are too often full of editing mistakes. We writers can rarely edit our own books successfully. For one thing, we read what we think we said. We read what pleases us, not realizing our readers may not “get it” or will be just plain bored. And, of course, there can be appalling grammar and spelling mistakes. Fortunately, these days, self-pubbed writers are more aware of potential problems, and many are wise enough to hire an independent editor or, at least, to work with a good critique group. But the stigma sticks and, in many cases, is still justified.

What about those of us who sell books to publishers with editors who help catch problems, assuming the quality of the book has passed potential inspection by a publisher and/or agent? Of course we must present the best book possible and here, too, a critique group or independent editor can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

And, after the book comes out, bringing it to public attention is–for the most part–done by authors, not publishers, whether that publisher be Random House or Granny’s Garage Press. Statistics say a large percentage of published books do not sell more than 250 copies per year. To enhance promotion, some authors hire a savvy independent publicist who will help get the word out well beyond an individual author’s reach.

So, on our own, and with any help we can add, we promote–largely on line. Honest truth?  On an average day in my office I spend up to five hours on promotion, especially when a new book has just come out. I get the question “WHY?” when new authors hear this.

For each book, I write a marketing plan made up of many avenues of promotion, including an active on line presence. I think you can figure out why that’s important. Yesterday’s advertising methods have most often been replaced by reading on a screen, especially a tiny hand-held one. So I write guest blogs and, when I can get to it, my own blog on WordPress. I post to groups like facebook and twitter. I update information on sites like DorothyL, and Goodreads, plus groups I am part of–Oak Tree Press, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. Taking advantage of all the ways there are to get news out about my profession and my current products–novels–obviously takes a big hunk of time out of my day. I am not alone in this. Other authors talk about the fact that promotion, instead of the act of writing itself, takes too much time. (This is especially difficult for parents and those who have a “day job.”)

All this information is not exactly cheering. So, why do so many of us continue writing and submitting?

Some time ago newspaper editor Richard J. Cattani offered this advice to potential writers: “Your writing should begin with motive, not process.” Okay, process is what I have been talking about. But what about motive? Webster says “motive” is “a need or desire that causes a person to act.”  That FC - A Portrait to Die Forsounds like an ordinary human life. Well, what about book characters?

As a mystery writer, I believe that, when evil happens and my characters react to it, there is a truth in the background waiting to be discovered. Of course book people will be the ones to do this–after I discover in my thought-file ways to resolve the challenges I have placed before them. Often I do not know how an issue will be resolved when the problem is presented but, over the years, I have learned the answer is there and always appears when needed. Do other authors work like this?  In my own case, I knew what the art crime would be in A Portrait to Die For long before I became aware of how it would be brought to light and what the result would be. A writer uses imagination, intuition, and inspiration for problem-solving. We have a deep interest in the human condition and the world we live in, and we do our work on a highly intuitive level, noticing, pondering, sharing, and, quite often–at least in my case–hoping we are sharing solutions that may be helpful to our readers while we offer them adventure and entertainment.

For me, that’s a great motive for being a writer.

A World Colored by Shades of Gray By JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

JoAnn_hands_chinWingsEdit-v2_120My WWII paranormal suspense, EXPECT DECEPTION, released on June 21. For this first conversation after its release, I’m sharing some concepts about today’s younger audiences that I gleaned from a 2014 online article by Jeff Gomez about the Disney movie, Frozen. (http://read.bi/1ey3MF2). I kept these concepts in mind as I wrote this “soft” thriller.

 

While exploring why this animated movie drew young people to the box office when other similar movies hadn’t had the same success, Gomez reasoned that these ingredients were in play:

 

  • Children are growing up in a world colored by shades of gray. Gen X’ers and adult Millennials are teaching their Gen-Z progeny that it isn’t about Good vs. Evil, it’s about trying to figure out why they’re yelling at you.

 

  • Gen-Z kids are starved for a female superhero, a girl wielding power. Equally important is the Frozen heroine’s transformation from an uptight teen to the majestic Snow Queen. As Gomez says, it seems the one thing we can’t resist is a makeover.

 

EXPECT DECEPTION is a novel of transformation and empowerment for the heroine. In her makeover, Livvy finds “self-awareness” and “self-fulfillment” during World War II as a clairvoyant and as a member of the U.S. WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

 

Recruited by the government to search for Nazi spies on the East Coast and under the command of the navy, her team of psychics is charged with counteracting Hitler’s occult circle practice of mind control. Livvy’s confidence grows as she increases her skill and becomes more valuable to her country.

 

In book one of the Operation Delphi series, EXPECT TROUBLE, Livvy learned how to increase her psychic powers. In EXPECT DECEPTION, she Deception Cover_300learns how to be an effective team leader of psychics who are as easy to corral as cats. She meshes the skills of the other four team members—a crystal ball reader, a medium, a seer of ghosts, and a nurse with healing hands—into the strength and powers needed to take on the Nazi spy, who is also a black arts magician capable of invoking demons.

 

We authors have to be aware of the changing viewpoints of younger readers who will become our future readers, so I incorporated these article viewpoints into my paranormal stories. While I am an author who writes “good vs. evil” themes, I used the day-by-day baby steps we all need to take to resolve issues and to reach goals to show the slow transformation and empowerment of my characters. These baby steps are the shades of gray needed by the next generation of readers who want to understand why they are getting yelled at.

 

Do your life experiences match the conclusions Gomez reaches in his article? Do you find that it takes “baby steps” to get to the new levels of your personal development?

 

Let us know.

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When JoAnn Smith Ainsworth carried wood as a pre-teen so her Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, she wasn’t thinking, “I could use this in a novel someday.” Yet, the skills she learned from her horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for her historical romance and paranormal suspense novels.

 

JoAnn’s debut medieval romantic suspense novels received 4 stars from RT Book Reviews. Of her historical western romances:  “If you love westerns, this is the book for you. Great characters, great plot, and a story that will make you smile.” ……. Lauren Calder, Reviewer, Affaire de Coeur Magazine.

 

Of JoAnn’s paranormal suspense, Expect Trouble, reviewers said:  “If you like the British series The Bletchley Circle, you will enjoy this book!” ……. Patricia Simpson, Author; and “…This talented author strategically and skillfully takes the reader on a trip that will stay with them for a very long time.” …….Lauren Calder, Affaire de Coeur Magazine.

 

Expect Trouble was a semi-finalist in the East Texas Writers Guild first chapter contest 2015. The sequel, Expect Deception, releases June 2016.

LINKS:

For more, visit:  http://www.joannsmithainsworth.com.

Twitter @JoAnnAinsworth or @JoAnnParanormal or Facebook’s JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page (https://www.facebook.com/JoAnnSmithAinsworthAuthor?ref=hl).

Goodreads Blog:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1366481.JoAnn_Smith_Ainsworth/blog?format=rss

 

Contact her at JoAnnParanormal@gmail.com (Delphi series email).

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/Zgbls6

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/HMX2KH

Books a Million (BAM) –   http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=6000031779635&query=joann+smith+ainsworth&where=Books&search.x=22&search.y=8or http://tinyurl.com/ld8czbf

 

and at an independent bookstore near you – http://www.indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder

 

 

Crafting my characters by DH Smith

PicDSA6Thank you, PJ, for inviting me to do a guest blog. I’ve read some of the past blogs and I can see I am in the best of company. I shall be a well behaved guest.

 

I am going to tell you about the genesis of the main character in my crime series, Jack of All Trades. He’s unusual, and you might be interested how I got to him.  In 2013 I made the decision to write a crime series. I read crime (don’t write what you don’t read, as they say) and a series would allow me to develop a reputation (I hoped).

 

But where to start? I didn’t want to write a police procedural. I don’t have a police record, but cops make me feel I’ve done something wrong, which is not to deny the necessity of a police force. But I don’t need to write about them. Scratch that category. Next in popularity are private eyes who date back to Sherlock Holmes. JK Rowling, under the pen name Robert Galbraith, has her sleuth, the curiously named Cormoran Strike who makes me think of a diving seabird. I might go that way, I thought, but not yet. Then there’s the halfway house, those between the regular cops and PIs. John Grisham has his lawyer main characters, Patricia Cornwell her forensic pathologist. But Grisham and Cornwell were professionals in their field. That’s not me at all.

 

So that left me with someone whose job would take them to a different place in each book of the series. I researched the crime fiction in my local library.  The British writer Rebecca Tope has a florist as her protagonist. She has a shop and does displays at funerals, weddings, hotels etc, giving her a variety of setting for murder. I came across Charlaine Harris who has Lily Bard, a cleaner in the sleepy town of Shakespeare in Arkansas. A good choice, as cleaners go into every room in a house, empty the waste bins and note all the stains. Lots of possibilities for finding clues or bodies. She also wrote a series with Aurora Teagarden, a realtor. Realtors are popular I found: Elaine Orr with her heroine Jolie Gentil, Maggie Sefton with Kate Doyle, and quite a few others have taken this route. Why so many, you might ask. Because it’s easier than pathology or law, and we all live in houses.

 

You might note, all these examples are from women writers. I suspect they want to concentrate on the story and relationships, without the technical aspects of policing which can so bog a plot down. A male exception I’ve come across is Lawrence Block, whose main character, Bernie, is a burglar in New York. He knows houses too.

 

You can research until the cows come home. Enjoyable, but it was time to home in on my own main character’s line of work. I came up with a builder. Self employed, so he can go anywhere there’s work, which is just about anywhere there are people. His name is Jack Bell. Four of the series have been published so far. In the first he’s working in a summerhouse for a millionaire couple, and in the others he works respectively in: a tenement block, a school, and a park. He has his van with Jack of All Trades painted on the side – and has heard every joke about his firm’s name. His reply is, at least you’ll remember it.

 

Of course, a character is not just a job. So I had to fill him out. Jack lives where I live, in Forest Gate, East London. I can walk the streets and imagine what might happen where. Warring couples, money problems, the gamut of human conflict within the walls along the road. Jack is divorced with a 10 year old daughter, trying to shake off an alcohol problem, and always short of cash. His hobby is astronomy and he has a telescope to explore the night skies.

 

As a builder, he began as a carpenter and learned other skills on the job. At times he’s working on the edge of his skills and hoping he can get away with it. There’s some romance in each tale, complicated by the murder(s), where Jack may be the sleuth, a suspect, involved in the crime or even within a hair’s breadth from being another victim. But I have no intention of killing him off, so long as I have tales to tell.

 

If you are tempted to give the series a try, the first, Jack of All Trades, is free as an ebook on Amazon and also available in paperback.JackMockup-Books1-4small

 

Brief Bio

Derek Smith writes his crime fiction as DH Smith. As Derek Smith he has written children’s books ranging from those for five year olds to young adults. He lives in London but likes to get away from the smoke at weekends to walk in the countryside or by the sea. You can find out more about him at http://www.dereksmithwriter.com.

 

Jack of All Trade Series

There are four in the series at present, published under the name DH Smith:

Jack of All Trades

Jack of Spades

Jack o’Lantern

Jack by the Hedge.

They are all stand-alone novels, featuring the builder Jack Bell.

PACING – YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU DON’T READ IT By Rae James

RFranklinJamesKeeping your reader’s attention is not just a matter of writing back to back cliff hangers or tacking on one segmented episode after another, it requires grabbing the reader’s involvement so that they can’t wait to know what is going to happen next. They become vested in the main character’s success.

 

If a reader is too bored to find out what’s going to happen next, it’s likely you’re driving the reader out of your story because the pacing is lackluster.

 

When a reader or publisher says the book didn’t hold their attention, it could be because the storyline was weak or the pacing didn’t hold up the plot.  If the plot is the “why” the of the protagonist’s story, then pacing is the “how” the protagonist gets to where they’re going.

 

Pacing is a deliberate process of releasing your storyline in a controlled way. Readers should never know that they are being led and guided through each chapter as the plot is unveiled.  The best authors vary the pace. Certain scenes move rapidly while others allow readers to catch their breath before the plot is off and running again.

 

Hooks are critical to a page-turning, well-paced mystery novel. The book’s first sentence, or scene; and, a chapter’s last scene, or sentence—should draw-in and hold the reader. A great hook sets the pace for the book and engages the reader because they must turn the page to find out what happens next. Writing craft techniques such as: foreshadowing, main character in conflict, unanswered questions, upsetting internal dialogue, the completely unexpected, are all samples of hooks.

 

The creation of strong scenes is another critical contributor to good pacing. Scenes are where the action occurs in a chapter. The more scenes, the more action you can have. The more action, the faster pacing. However, caution must be taken not to rush from one action scene to another because, first, it will wear out the reader and second, it undermines the emotional buy-in we should have for the main characters.  We need a pause to reflect, in order to care about what is happening to the characters.

 

Concerned about a sagging middle? Check out your pacing. Create a scene with a plot twist preferably right after the protagonist has decided to go in an opposite direction.

 

Which takes us to another tool in the pacing toolbox—subplots. Well-written subplots create complications for the main character that create more main plot questions, or more questions about the main character. It’s the spacing (i.e. pacing) of subplot questions that keep the reader engaged. Will he leave? Will she survive? Will the real murderer be caught?

 

Remember to control pacing of your mystery you should evaluate the best tool to manage the pace. There should be a balance between speed-raised by the plot questions, dialogue and short chapters; versus a slower pace caused by interior dialogue, an engaging sex scene, narrative description or secondary characters’ subplots.

 

Structure affects pacing. If you feel the book is lagging as you are writing, look at the word allocation. It’s easy for a reader to get bored when you give scenes too much narrative—that is too many words on a page.  Don’t let wordy descriptions or irrelevant detail drag on.  Descriptions of any kind slow down the pace of a mystery novel. They’re best when the action is ramping up, or if building tension in the plot. But like any undertaking, too many words (or too little white space) on a page weighs down your writing and the reader will pick up another book.

 

Endings are sometimes overlooked as pacing opportunities in a novel. Whether you’re writing a mystery series or stand-alones, you want the reader to pick up your next book. The last paragraph in your novel, even the last line, must hook the reader. It’s the promise of the next escalating adventure that will keep your fans reading your series and impatient for the release of your next book.

 

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Rae James writes under R. Franklin James and is the author of the Hollis Morgan Mysteries. The first book in the series, The Fallen Angels Book trade_list_300Club was released by Camel Press in 2013. Book two, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club. The fourth book in the series: The Trade List was released this June 2016. James resides in Northern California.

 

Website:   www.rfranklinjames.com

Twitter:    @RFJbooks

 

Books that Changed my Life: Good, Bad or Otherwise by Carol Wright Crigger

KINDLE_CAMERA_1457262729000First of all, I think just about every book I’ve ever read changed my life in some way. A pretty broad statement, I know, but as an example, the romance novels (in my teens I read a lot of romances) struck me as too smarmy even for a young lady with notions of being swept away by the love of  her life. Eventually I caught on that I’m not a romantic soul. Great books of many genres have taught me what I want to write; the clunkers taught me what I don’t.

A point here. It is my firm belief that being a reader is part of being a writer. You can’t do one without the other. Reading forms your opinions. It lets you see varying styles, and shows you the kind of writer you want to be. Also, whether one ends up as a mystery writer, a romance or science fiction writer, a mainstream or literary or even a writer of westerns, what you’ve read and enjoyed and that fired your imagination is probably what influenced you to write in a particular genre. Changed your life, in other words.

When you select a genre, you’re going to connect with the people who also love that kind of book. Just think how much simpler it is to sell a book to someone who is predisposed to want to read it. I’ve had people brush away my westerns. On the other hand, some people won’t read science fiction. Or “made up stuff.” It’s our job as writers to educate them and broaden their views, right?

Way back, I read just about every book in my school library. Okay,  so the feat may not be as impressive as it sounds. It wasn’t a huge library. The population of my rural farming community was a whopping 270 in those days. My graduating class was the biggest in years. Twelve of us. Nevertheless, the library contained many of the classics, including Shakespeare, along with the likes of Sinclair Lewis and Kenneth Roberts. Libraries are where I discovered what kind of writer I would become, having known from the time I was six or seven I wanted to be a writer. Of those authors I just mentioned, Kenneth Roberts had the most influence. He made me love history. One of his books showed me the way to write.

I learned most of what I know about the Revolutionary War from Kenneth Roberts’s books. History as viewed from both sides, British and American. In one of his books, Oliver Wiswell, an elderly female character gives Oliver advice on how to write a book. “You need an idea,” she says, “a determination to make the sentences clear and readable …” She goes on to say, “The way to write a book is to write one sentence and then write another, and keep on doing it every day, rain or shine, sick or well.”

Talk about one book changing a life! A whole course of education in a couple of paragraphs. Would others find those words so inspiring? I don’t know, but they certainly resonated with me.

Other writers have influenced me. The first science fiction I read was by Robert Heinlein, but I wanted something different. I found Lois McMaster Bujold and was hooked.

Tony Hillerman showed me contemporary western mysteries. Way back there was John Creasey, Agatha Christie and Dick Francis with their British mysteries, all very different. Janet Evanovich introduced me to humorous mysteries that blend romance. Spencer Quinn mysteries have a dog as a narrator⏤and it works! There’s something to learn from every writer. Something that changes your life. My parents read lots and lots of westerns. These were my first experience with adult fiction and had tons of influence over my choices. You can probably guess why I write my own kind of western mystery adventure⏤when I’m not writing fantasy or contemporary mystery.

Four Furlongs, the fourth book of my China Bohannon western mystery series, features an 1890s bookkeeper who’d rather sleuth than type. There’s aFourFurlongsFront12-50-52-208 race horse, a Bedlington terrier dog, a bit of a love interest, quirky friends, and as always, a dangerous adventure awaiting my heroine in the case she has to resolve. The book released this month from FiveStar/Cengage Publishing in hardcover and eBook formats.

Buy Links:  Amazon          B&N

BIO: Born and raised in north Idaho on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, Carol Wright Crigger lives in Spokane Valley, Washington. Imbued with an abiding love of western traditions and wide-open spaces, Ms. Crigger writes of free-spirited people who break from their standard roles. She is a member of Western Writers of America, and is a two time Spur Award finalist, in 2007 for short fiction, and 2009 for audio. Her western novel, Black Crossing, was the 2008 EPIC Award winner in the western/historical category.

www.ckcrigger.com

 

The Best Book I Never Wrote by Randy Rawls

Randy Rawls Promo Pic - Hi Rez (1)            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’s Bio

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.

 

BlurbDD Cover

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.