Many thanks to Hostess Lisa Pearce and the Gardenia Garden Club of Winter Haven, Florida for inviting me to talk about my books and my writing process. The club held a rare evening meeting for this event!
I was an active member of the club for twelve years and took a hiatus to fulfill my dream of publishing novels. My Gardenia Garden Club sisters have cheered me on throughout this journey.
Research is the fun part of writing a novel. I have enjoyed learning about weapons, boats, aircraft, police procedures, fraud, self-defense, and more. The ladies asked questions about the process of writing a novel and about the upcoming book in the series.
As I complete the fourth and final book in the Compass Crimes series, the characters have become part of my life. Friends and colleagues have helped me tremendously through encouraging words, slogging through rough drafts, and introducing me to experts in various fields, vocations, and hobbies.
Of course, I still read as often as humanly possible, but before publishing my first book, I’d stand in long lines to get authors’ autographs and thank them for writing.
In Hawaii, I shared a cab with screenwriter Jeffrey Arch. Ben Bova helped me locate an artifact for Mars. Laura Lippman taught a week-long workshop that was worth the whole conference. Dave Barry embarrassed me in front of my mother, which made her day. I embarrassed Ridley Pearson when I pointed out his father was in line for an autograph after Pearson gave a keynote speech on humilty.
I had the priviledge of being on a panel discussion at a writer’s conference with Linda Fairstein, whose books inspired the Law & Order SVU series. James W. Hall gave me priceless advice on writing description. David Morrell swapped flying stories with me because, being the consumate researcher, he got his pilot’s license to write a book that featured a pilot.
Steve Berry shared his exhaustive writing process with writers at a conference in Florida. Kristin Higgins is as hilarious in person as the characters in her books.
Each signed book has a story about meeting the author. I have a bookcase of stories.
As an author, I strive to connect with readers on the page and in person.
At a book club in Highlands, North Carolina, I was asked to sign a book for Ann. When I opened the book, it was already signed to Ann. The lady gasped and said she bought the book used and didn’t notice it had already been signed. What were the odds of that?
Readers have shared photos of themselves reading my books at the beach, on a boat, on a plane, at a hunting camp, and at home.
Readers in Japan surprise me. Haven’t done any marketing in Japan. Sales are steady there thanks to someone who spread the word.
Last week a reader from Waynesville, NC wrote to tell me that someone up there was hosting a game of Cow Bingo. She thought I had made up the game in a book. I confess, I stole the idea from living in a rural small town.
Last week a friend told me that she knew a lady who mailed a copy of my book to her niece in New Zealand. It cost her $40 to mail it. I’d have autographed it, if I’d known. Wowza.
Book clubs are the most fun because they ask great questions. Since research is the best part of the writing process, I love to share insider knowledge that didn’t make it into the book. I’m a pilot, so the scenes about flying in South of Justice come from experience.
To all the readers who buy books from newbie authors like me, God bless you! To all the readers who leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, LibraryThing, and social media, you are golden. Thank you for sharing your love of reading with others and for recommending books by lesser-known authors.
The American Library Association tracks requests to ban books. Sure, I think we can all agree that the Kama Sutra would be inappropriate for a grade-school library even though it could be considered a picture book. But what if your local public library removed all copies of Brave New World, The Color Purple, Twilight, the Bible, and the Harry Potter Series?
WOULD YOU SPEAK UP?
The LA Times reported that in 2017 the Accomack County school district in Virginia considered removing copies of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from their libraries because one parent objected to the use of the N-word in these books. Has this parent been in a school lately? Or listened to rap music? The casual use of the N-word among blacks makes me wonder–who is offended?
Just for the record, I am offended by the word. But then, I was alive when the word was used as an insult and not as a greeting or term of endearment. In the historical stories above, the characters who use the N-word are portrayed as severely uneducated or hateful, so why not use these stories to teach children about why we shouldn’t use it now? Shall we let political correctness or the opinion of one person dictate which classics the rest of us should be allowed to read?
Shall ladies return to wearing corsets and covering our ankles if a small segment of society decided to return to the good old Victorian era dictates of decency? Why not let the tail wag the dog and surrender to every segment of society’s whims and sensibilities?
I am speaking up because even though a book might offend me to the core, I don’t expect the world to kneel to my feelings. I’m a grown up. I can survive being offended. I’m likely to grumble about things from time to time, but I don’t force my will on others or throw a tantrum when the world doesn’t comply with my demands.
My favorite book has elements of the supernatural, erotic poetry, war, natural disasters, political intrigue, romance, adventure, and more. But it’s banned or heavily restricted in these countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, China (People’s Republic), Comoros, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen. Apparently, the Bible threatens the culture or governments of these countries. I can’t recall extremist Christian-led riots, bombings, or other acts of terrorism endangering any governments, but hey, they run their countries their way. Making the Bible forbidden is their loss.
In America, we enjoy the freedom to read whatever we want. If we don’t like a book, we don’t burn it or ban it. We don’t threaten the author and publisher. We just don’t buy it. We use the power of the free market to support the books we enjoy and treasure. We can, of course, post negative reviews or ignore books that offend us. We allow individuals to decide for themselves.
When you’re done reading, please be kind and leave a brief review wherever you share reviews, Amazon, Goodreads, or your favorite social media sites. Your review is like a thank-you note to the author.
Oh, and if you like North of the Killing Hand in this giveaway, it is the beginning of a series called the Compass Crimes.
In this ancient country, there was once a potato famine that led to a mass migration. Many of these immigrants came to settle in the United States. They take their beer seriously and they mark sheep with paint.
Some hints…It is the safest country in the world to travel. In 2019, the country held a funeral for a glacier. If you lived there, you’d want to have the vehicle on the right to manage the interior roads.