Favorite Books or Authors

I was preparing answers to a questionnaire the other day on which it asked what was my favorite book.  There was no way I could decide on only one book.  At various times in my life certain books were more important than others but there has not been one that was absolutely the favorite.  Maybe you have one book that is your absolute favorite but mine would be a ever changing (and growing) list.

In my college days I remember reading Dr. Strangelove (before I saw the movie- out loud with a rowdy group of friends) and Catch-22.  I thought those books were something special by genius level authors.  I had loved tons of sci-fi books during high school with Vonnegut being my favorite author.  About that same time I read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I was amazed at the effort involved in writing those stories.

I have had a long term love of mysteries.  Probably have read most of the best known mystery writers with a real attachment to the British understated style–such as Agatha Christie.  Raymond Chandler help establish a whole genre of detective stories which I have enjoyed.

Current mystery authors on my list are: Mark Gimenez, Todd Borg, Michael Connelly (great Bosch fan), Sheldon Siegel, J.A. Jance, C.J. Box and Stuart Woods.

New book in the works!

Pacheco and Chino, PI’s: Hot Springs Inn Mystery is the first book in a series that will follow Ray Pacheco, from The Bootlegger’s Legacy as he retires as the Sheriff of Dona Ana County and starts his new life as a resident of Elephant Butte Lake.  This book is now being edited and will be published later this year.

This was a fun book to write because of the unique (oddball?) partners Ray takes on as he abandons the do-nothing-but-fish retirement life and starts a private investigation business.  This first book is about them getting to know one another as they solve the disappearance of an Albuquerque woman from the Hot Springs Inn and in the process discover major secrets involving the FBI.

First Book–Lessons Learned

The Bootlegger’s Legacy is my second book.  In, I believe, 2009 I wrote and published a book; The Originals.  That book is no longer available, or will soon not be available–even if it was, I would not recommend buying it.  It was a good story and someday I may revisit that book and rewrite it–maybe; probably not.  While an interesting story it was not my best effort.

After writing my first book I did not write again for awhile.  But I continued to study and practice–usually just writing outlines, or one or two chapters–playing with ideas.  Something I have learned about writing–to get better you have to practice.  And you need input from others.  Maybe that is obvious to everyone but me.  No doubt there are people who can sit down and write a great book–I think most have to work at it for some time before they get to where they want to be.

Since finishing The Bootlegger’s Legacy I have written two more books and started my fifth.  And I have outlines on the next two projects.  The more I write the better I feel about the books–it may stop soon, but for now I am in a groove.

Is Joe Meadows Ted Clifton?

Someone asked if Joe Meadows, one of the main characters in The Bootlegger’s Legacy, was based on me.  The easy answer is no.  Joe is a fictional character.  However there are some common attributes; both CPAs, both enjoyed visiting a bar on occasion, both lived in Oklahoma City, (as you will see in later books) both learned to love to cook–but this is just about author convenience.  Writer’s write about what they know (although my friend, Stan Nelson, might disagree) and so Joe and many of the characters in my books will share some of my background because that is what I know.

Joe and Mike went to a bar called Triple’s–that was a real bar in Oklahoma City in the 1970s and 80s.  And I would on occasion meet co-workers or friends at that bar–does that make Joe me–of course not.  Joe was stuck in a world that would not change.  In my case I continued to change and tried to find ways to exercise my creative side in my financial work and my art and my writing.

Joe was an accountant because that was a necessary part of the story.  His connection with Mike was both as a friend but also as a financial adviser.  That set Joe up as being able to handle other aspects of the story as they came about.  Each character is written to fit the story–it is not autobiographical. 

Indie Book Help

The greatest help I have received in the development of an indie book has come from two guys in Canada; Saul Bottcher and Nas Hedron of indiebooklauncher.com.  As a team they have been a huge asset to my personal development as a writer and book publisher.  It is not just the editing, the technical stuff, or the creative inspiration– it is also their willingness to answer questions.  To actually listen and try to answer, no doubt, often stupid questions with patience and insight.  I have learned over many months to respect and trust these people with my most important possessions; my books.

If you ever think about venturing into the world of indie publishing, contact these guys; they will become your most important resource.

Book Ideas–where they come from?

My first thoughts about The Bootlegger’s Legacy were to write a book about a couple of early middle aged guys (40s) who needed some quick cash.  Originally I was going to have them try to make some kind of drug deal.  And the book was going to be about their somewhat comical venture into drug trafficking.

The basis for this idea was in fact something I knew about in my past (probably early 1980s) in Oklahoma City.  A sometimes drinking buddy I knew who owned a clothing store supposedly was involved in something similar.   It was a lame brained scheme that never actually happened–as far as I know.  This was being driven by his need to bail his business out of a financial mess.

That little bit of information about something that may or may not have happened was the original idea for TBL.  I have talked to a couple of authors who write fiction and they both describe a process of extensive research about a core subject matter or event that will proceed any actual writing.  Often this research will take months and sometimes years before anything is actually written.  I think that would drive me nuts.  I get an idea and I immediately start writing.  Like a lot of things in life there are many ways of doing whatever you are trying to do–and the right way is the one that works for you.