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So Long, Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Review)

5 out of 5 stars           Book Review

 

Spoiler Alert:  In order to write a formal review (which would include telling a little about this fascinating story), it would be riddled with “spoiler alert” warnings.  So I won’t.

Instead, I want to write about this author’s uncanny talent for concepts.  She writes about people, everyday people, about life, and how messy it is.  It may not be a conscious thought, but somewhere inside you, you are wondering, ‘How did she come up with this concept for a story?’ 

In my interview with Catherine, she addresses how she comes up with her stories:

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CRH. When I have finished a novel and turned it over to my agent, I know I need a new idea. I open up to a new idea, and I meet a character. I generally see a glimpse of them, having some sort of life experience. Then I spend a few weeks in my head, with nothing down on paper yet, coaxing them to tell me more. (end quote)

That’s what I tell my writers (fans); to keep their eyes and ears open because you may get a mere glimpse of your next character. Just waiting there, in the shadows,  for you, so they can tell you their story. 

But I digress.  If you have never read another book, be certain to read So Long Chester Wheeler. It’s a distillation of everything that’s so wonderful and horrid about the humane species. Beautifully written. Like Catherine examines each word to make sure it’s worthy to be in her story before she lays it down.  And, as with most of her books, there are lots of surprises, plot twists and turns the reader never sees coming. 
This author is everything we mere mortal writers should aspire to be.  Sharpen your pencils!!  

Available now at your favorite book store!

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Women of Straw ~~ Book Review

1 out of 5 stars

 

This book was a real disappointment.  The writer has few, next to no, writing skills.

The dialog was average in this book, relying heavily on colloquialisms and platitudes. This writer needs to focus on her dialog writing skills rather than using these crutches. The story is told with “one voice,” and I suspect that voice was the author.
The fact that the uncle was a predator, set loose in a house full of women, was telegraphed way too soon in the storyline.

The POV was jumping around. As frequently as in the next paragraph rather than in a specific time span or the next chapter. I found it very distracting.

The women were too namby-pamby ( regards the uncle), considering that they had survived the father’s death and still maintained the running of their business.

The straw hat-making was the most interesting thing in the story…it should have been the story. And there were a couple of characters that were not fleshed out (developed) and should have been.  

I try very hard to read books I know will win a great review.  As my mission is always to lift up and support other writers.  Couldn’t do it this time, sorry! 
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Marc Cameron ~~ Author Interview (conclusion)

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

MC. Not in my lifetime. Too many people I know, including me, love the feel of a physical book.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MC. I wish I knew… An ear for a good story? Insatiable curiosity? Persistence, for sure. I will say, though, that there are a lot of great stories out there that still haven’t seen the light of day for one reason or another.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MC. I start with a lot of plotting talks with my wife and adult kids, bouncing ideas and scenarios off hem. I do a lot of freewriting, exploring various plot ideas. Then I take that free writing and distill it into scenes. That goes onto a computer. Then I work through those scenes, usually in order. If I’m going fishing or camping, I’ll take pencils and paper and work on a few of the scenes while I’m away. I try to get 2,000 words a day but some days I do 1,000 and others I may do 4,000. I have a large whiteboard in my office that I use to get the big picture of the plot, POVs, and to make sure I’m writing about the correct time zone when I’m jumping from one locale to another halfway around the world—IE it can’t be morning in Boston and Beijing at the same time. I’m a detailed plotter, but I still deviate from my outline all the time. It’s a guide, not law. My wife reads everything when I’m done. I submit to my editor when I get the nod from her.

New Release Dec 6th

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MC. I’ve been fortunate to do some interesting things, work with some stellar people, and have some incredible adventures. The nature of work with the Marshals Service might have me in New York City working a protection detail on a Supreme Court Justice or in deep in bush Alaska tracking a fugitive through the woods. Both my sons were in law enforcement for a time. One of them still is. My eldest son is a physician in the military. My daughter and my youngest son share my love of motorcycles. I’m able to pick their brains and benefit from their experiences as well as my own. The bad, even harrowing experiences like violent fights, evil people, and horrific crime scenes can’t help but inform my writing.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

MC. There has been a lot less of that lately. I love motorcycles, boats, all things outdoors, and I love spending time with my grandkids. Teaching my grandkids about nature and tracking is one of my favorite ways to spend time. They’re inspiring and often end up in the books in one form or another.

Cook Islands

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

MC. As I mentioned, I spent a lot of times around horses and cowboys and a youngster, so when it came time to try and seriously write a novel, a Western vernacular came naturally to my pen. I wrote several while I was still with the Marshals Service. Some were ghostwritten for another author. TO HELL AND BEYOND, is a compendium of two of them are under my earlier pen name, Mark Henry.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MC. Noticing that I wasted a great deal of time being social when I had more important things to do, my freshman college theater professor took me aside and gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. “Marc,” he said. “You will never amount to your full potential unless you learn to use those little fifteen-minute segments of time that most people waste.” I took him at his word—and have written a lot of books in airports, on planes, or in waiting rooms. One of the reasons, I think, why I like to write longhand.

Did you miss the Beginning?
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Marc Cameron Writing for Tom Clancy in New Book (part 3)

Another office (Cook Islands)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

MC. I grew up in a family of storytellers. We were poor, and often didn’t have a TV, or, when we did, not a very good one. As a young boy, I’d sit on the porch and listen to my aunts tell stories while we shelled peas. As I got older, I’d help my grandpa mend fence or hoe okra. He kept me entertained with stories about his boyhood. My aunt, a librarian, introduced me to Where the Red Fern Grows when I was eight years old. It was one of the first ‘chapter’ books I read. It made me cry. I took it to school and begged my third-grade teacher to read it to the class. She did. It made her cry. Shortly after that, we moved to a farm in central Texas. It was a different time and at ten, I was allowed to roam and explore with my dog. I read Old Yeller and Savage Sam—and started writing what we would call fan fiction nowadays—about brave boys and good dogs and their adventures together.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MC. Sometimes one, sometimes the other—but most of the time it’s the character.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MC. When it’s going right, that’s exactly what happens. I tend to watch the story unfold like a movie in my head.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

MC. I wrote all over the place when I was younger—Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure, Westerns. With my background, it was natural that I eventually found my way into contemporary Thriller/Crime fiction.

New Release Dec 6th

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

MC. Tom Clancy RED WINTER is out now.

Then, BREAKNECK, my next Arliss Cutter novel, a crime fiction series about an deputy US marshal based in Alaska, comes out in April of 2023. I’m working on the next Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan now. After that, I’ll jump back into another Cutter and finish up another Jericho Quinn.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MC. Charlotte Skidmore, my English teacher in eleventh grade, was known to be the hardest teacher in our high school. Early that year, she gave me a C- on a creative writing assignment. I’d written it in pencil when it should have been typed. The format was wrong, and there were gobs of spelling errors. Her famous red pen had bled all over my story. I deserved the grade—or worse. But, at the top of the page, written in pencil, was a note from her that said, “Marc, this looks publishable to me.” Those six words from the hardest teacher in the school changed the trajectory of my life. I tell this story all the time, but when we were fist married and living on slightly over six bucks an hour as a rookie police officer, my wife bought me a bullet proof vest (the PD didn’t provide them then) and a Smith Corona electric typewriter. I spent the next twenty years or so writing short stories and walking to the mailbox for rejection letters before I finally got a story published. My wife was always supportive, but when we received that first little check in the mail, she met me at the door with a rolled up magazine, swatted me on the butt, and said, “Congratulations. Now go write us a new refrigerator.” It’s been fairly steady since then.

Conclusion next week!
Did you miss the beginning?
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Monday Motivations for Writers! #3

Writers! Jump-start your day with more Monday Motivations!

Oh, so you think you will write all day, and beautiful things will happen?  Think again, grasshopper.  If you’re a one-person band like myself and most other indie authors, you will have to wear an editor, publicist, marketing, and publishing hat, to name a few.
It takes hard work and then some more hard work.  But here’s the payoff:  After eight years…yep..you heard me right…of consistent weekly blogging with relevant content, supporting other writers, and interviewing authors so much more famous than I am (well, I’m not famous at all) my posts are on page ONE of Google search, and my books are selling.  This year a traditional publisher picked up my true crime series of books.  Don’t misunderstand; when you get a publisher, DO NOT stop publishing your indie books.  And most important of all: KEEP WRITING!

  “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” Alan Rickman, actor

 

 

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”  John Wayne

Writing isn’t a calling; it’s a doing.”  T. Sugarek

 

     ‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate, and hibernate.’  Trisha Sugarek

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Marc Cameron Writing for Tom Clancy ~ Interview (part 2)

Alaska office

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

MC. I do a great deal of freewriting and plotting at the beginning of any project. The lion’s share of that is done with a pencil or fountain pen. I’m partial to Blackwing 602 pencils. I buy them by the dozens and always make sure I have a bunch with me when I travel. I carry a small brass sharpener on my keychain every day. My wife gave me a very nice Montblanc fountain pen years ago when I was promoted to chief deputy with the Marshals Service. I write a healthy portion of each book with that pen, pencils, or some other fountain pen. I have several manual typewriters and I sometimes bang out a chapter on one of them for fun, to remind me of the good old days when I couldn’t cut and paste. I like yellow Rhodia notepads for longhand work. The paper is great for pen or pencil. I burn through five or six pads for an Arliss Cutter or Jericho Quinn novel and as many as ten for a Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan. Still, my laptop gets plenty of use too.

Horse pack camping ~ eldest son ~ Idaho 1996.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names.

MC. I was a mounted police officer for my department in Texas and a horseshoer to help make ends meet in those early years. We had a number of ranch horses during our time in Texas and while I was station in Idaho, but not Alaska. My family has had blue heeler cattle dogs as well as a cat or two for most of my adult life—maybe a reason my wife and I find ourselves steering our grandkids toward watching Bluey during their scant TV time. We’ve had Rowdy, Bandit, Belle, Pepper, Havoc, Mazie, and a few others over the past thirty-plus years. Mazie, our last, passed away a few years ago at the age of twelve. We travel so much now that we’ve held off on any new dogs…for the time being.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

MC. I grew up reading short stories. My short fiction has appeared in both Boys’ Life magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. My other commitments keep me focused on longer projects, but I always have some little story hanging around out there to toy with for fun. Lately, I’m dabbling at some screenwriting. I enjoy reading poetry, but writing it eludes me.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MC. I think a lot of procrastination comes from fear. Fear of not knowing where we’re going. Fear of getting it wrong. Fear of someone not liking our stuff. Twenty-five novels and a gob of short stories down the road and I still remind myself that it’s normal to make mistakes. I don’t have to get everything right the first time. I can fix anything but a blank piece of paper. Deadlines help too, either from the publisher or self-imposed as long as there is accountability. I’ve asked my wife to check on my word count periodically throughout the day. Also, I don’t read my Amazon reviews. Good or bad.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

A. Almost thirty years of law enforcement has afforded me a deep roster of interesting characters to draw from. Most everyone I write about is inspired by some combination of people I’ve either arrested, investigated, or worked alongside in the trenches. I’ve kept a small notebook for years and written down descriptions, names, quirks, etc. that show up in my books all the time.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Part 3 will follow next week….

Did you miss Part 1 of this fascinating Interview?
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Author, Marc Cameron writing for TOM CLANCY (Interview)

TS.     Marc  Cameron had a twenty-nine-year career in law enforcement, the last twenty-two as a deputy U.S. marshal. Originally from Texas, he and his wife have made their home in Alaska for the past twenty-five years.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

Cook Islands

MC. I grew up on a farm and did a lot of writing under oak trees, along creek banks, and in haybarns. I traveled a lot during my career with the Marshals Service so much of my writing was on airplanes and in hotel rooms. I have a home office now. In Alaska, I often go to a cabin when I’m planning/plotting a book. My wife and I go to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for a couple of months, most every year. A large portion of my books have been written there, on

 

a tiny island in the South Pacific surrounded by palm trees and close to the beach. The culture, the setting, the weather… It’s difficult to imagine a more idyllic place for me to write.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MC.  I get up a little before six most mornings and stumble across the hall to my office. My plan each day is to sit down and write for a couple of hours before I open my emails or check in social media. I write roughly a third of each book in pencil, depending on my mood each day. I keep several notepads and a hundred or so sharpened Blackwing 602 pencils on my desk. There’s something about writing longhand that gets my brain moving in a different way. Most days, I set a timer, writing for fifty minutes then getting up and doing something physical for ten or fifteen minutes, repeating this cycle six to ten (or more) times a day.

Q. How do you ‘get inside’ Tom Clancy’s head and write for him?

New Release Dec 6th

MC. Writing the Jack Ryan’s for the Tom Clancy estate has been one of the great honors of my life. It is not something I sought out. The offer came as a complete surprise when the previous writer, Mark Greaney, recommended me. I was terrified when my agent called and said I’d been offered the gig. In fact, I told my editor, Tom Colgan, that anyone who was not terrified was probably the wrong person for the job. From the very beginning, he helped alleviate some of that fear by letting me know that he didn’t expect me to try to imitate Tom Clancy. He just wanted me to write the best Marc Cameron book I could “in the spirit of Tom Clancy.” I’ve been a Clancy reader since The Hunt for Red October so his characters are real to me. Even so, I reread all the books when I started, and continue to refer to them often to make sure I keep the characters consistent.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MC. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was around eight years old, and a police officer about as along—but from middle school through my first year of college I was extremely active in theater and, for a brief period, considered trying to become an actor. I met my future wife when we were cast in a play together our freshman year of college.

Part two continues next week…
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert B. Parker’s FALLOUT by Mike Lupica (a review)

   5 out of 5 stars     ~~    Book Review

Mike Lupica returns to write this most current release, FALLOUT.  Another Jesse Stone true crime created by Robert B. Parker.  And it’s flawless, as usual.  Mike writes in the voice of Parker effortlessly and I really enjoyed this one. 

The small town of Paradise is devastated when a star high-school baseball player is found dead at the bottom of a bluff just a day after winning the team’s biggest game. For Jesse, the loss is doubly difficult—the teen was the nephew of his colleague, Suitcase Simpson, and Jesse had been coaching the young shortstop. As he searches for answers about how the boy died and why, he is stonewalled at every turn, and it seems that someone is determined to keep him from digging further.  (www.amazon.com)

I never cease to marvel at these authors who keep Parker’s storytelling alive for us. All successful authors in their own right.  Lupica, one of the most prominent sports writers in America,  and Reed Farrel Coleman for Jesse Stone.  Ace Atkins for Spencer and Sunny Randall. There is a  list too long to list here.  All speak with the same clarity and write as if they are Robert B. Parker incarnate. 

Check out my fascinating INTERVIEW with Mike Lupica and Ace Atkins.

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Interview with author, Kevin Kennedy (part 2)

At my desk

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

KK. That’s a tough one. I suffer from it myself. I’d say, just write when you can. Try not to plan too much in as it becomes overwhelming. Don’t force a word count every day if it’s not coming. You will just feel worse. Stick to what works for you.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

KK. It tends to be an overall story idea or plot idea I have and then I work out what type of character would fit the story best. It’s rare a fully developed character comes to me. They often grow as I write.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

KK. I was always a big reader but never thought about writing. If I hadn’t seen an advert on Facebook looking for stories, I don’t think I would have ever looked into it. There was no urge. It just grew organically, and now I run a publishing company that puts out chart toppers, and I get invited to participate in invite-only projects regularly. I don’t think I could ever walk away from it now.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

KK. Situation. I will often have an urge to write a certain type of story or even just a scene and then everything builds around it.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

KK. Sometimes but due to a hectic life, I often only have small spaces to fit it in. It’s not the best way to work but life takes over. I still work full time for a charity that helps people into employment and I have a family so writing comes third.

with friend, Dacre

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

KK. It was easy. I only read horror so it was horror I started writing.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

KK. A few things. I wrote a novella called Halloween Land. I’m halfway through writing a prequel, The Clown. She was a favorite character of the readers and I wanted to write more about her anyway. I am also close to finishing my 4th collection of short stories called The A to Z of Horror. I have an upcoming anthology releasing in December called The Horror Collection Sapphire Edition. It’s the 13th book in the series. It’s been pretty popular.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

KK. Probably about 5 years ago when I started to see sales picking up.
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Did you miss the beginning of the interview

Join us for the conclusion next week.
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Interview with Horror author, Kevin Kennedy

 Kevin J. Kennedy is a horror author, editor, and anthologist. He is also the owner of KJK Publishing.
He lives in the heart of Scotland with his wife and his three cats, Carlito, Ariel and Luna. He can be found on Facebook most days if you want to chat with him.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? 

KK. I tend to work where I can. Often on the couch or in bed. I do have a desk, but you rarely find me there.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

KK. Nope. Up until recently, I done most of my writing on an old broken laptop. I recently got a new Chromebook but I am finding it difficult to get used to it. You can only use Word online which is different to Word on my old laptop.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

KK. I only began writing about 7 years ago. Most of the time, writers always seem to have been involved in one way or another. I sort of stumbled into it after seeing an advert for stories on Facebook and deciding I’d give it a go. I feel I have been lucky in how well everything has gone in such a short space of time.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

KK. Straight onto the keyboard, often with no real planning. Just an idea and see where it goes. I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants type of guy. I rarely plan anything out and I find I work better under pressure.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

KK. Three. Carlito and Ariel are brother and sister cats. Both ten years old. Carlito is jet black. Ariel is a tabby. We also have a little Calico called Luna who is now 2 years old. They rarely leave my side.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

KK. I have written mainly short stories with a few novellas. I still haven’t written a novel. I’m not sure I will. I prefer reading novellas so I imagine I will stick to writing them. I have co-written a few as well. Over the last few years I have written several poems that have been picked up but it will remain a once in a while thing and I love drabbles. I’ve written loads of

Carlito

drabbles (100 word stories.) I also fee that my 4 book series, 100 Word Horrors was the main instigator in the drabble craze in the horror market. I’ve stepped away from publishing that type of anthology now as I feel there is just too many coming out but I still sub to other publishers Anthos.

Watch for part 2 of this wonderful interview next week. 
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To receive my weekly posts, sign up for my  On the home page, enter your email address. 

Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK