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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

Monday Motivation for the Writer! #8

My interview with bestselling author Robyn Carr was so generous  it became a 3 parter. She said this in the context of the post. I couldn’t have said it better so I borrowed it! Thanks, Robyn!

“….you have to be willing to write crap.  You have to write all the time whether it’s any good or not.  You can always delete or revise or rewrite but if you wait until it feels perfect, you’ll never accomplish anything.  You have to fill up pages with words and keep moving forward…”

 

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”  Kurt Vonnegut

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do.”  Kahlil Gibran

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Edgar Allan Poe

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

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Monday Motivations for the Writer! #7

You know a story has been rattling around in your brain.  TODAY is the day you will find time to sit down and write the first sentence, the first page. But you say, “I can’t get going. I can’t write it. Where do I start?”

Sit down and write an essay about yourself. Write down everything you’ve always wanted to say…but couldn’t or wouldn’t.  
Somewhere inside that essay are the bones (the outline) of your short story, your stage play, or your novel. It may not be even a whole sentence. It may be just a phrase. So look closely, as it may be hiding in plain view. 

Don’t worry about what will follow.  The story will lead you. If you are very lucky, your characters will take over and tell you their story.

‘It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.’ William Faulkner

“Writing is a Tryst with the imagination and a love affair with words.” Unknown

The reader, the book lover, must meet his own needs without paying too much attention to what his neighbors say those needs should be.” ~ Teddy Roosevelt

Sign up for my blog and receive  my posts weekly! Simple: type your email address in the box on my Home page (top/right). Click on ‘subscribe’.writer

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

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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.  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

Monday Motivations…for writers! #4

Writers, talk to your grandparents about their life experiences.  If you are a relatively new writer, start by writing about something you know.  Maybe a family story. My mother and her 12 siblings have been an endless reservoir of stories for me.  The length doesn’t matter when you first begin to write.  Be a good storyteller.  If I hear an adult chuckle when reading my children’s books, I know I’ve done a good job. 

How about a story from your Christmas past or holiday season with family?

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a
good children’s story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis

 “I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams.” ~ Van Gogh 
Dream your story and then write it!

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ~ e  e cummings

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

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Want to see all of these (45) in one book? Click here.

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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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

 

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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Want to see all of these (45) in one book? Click here.

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

 

Monday Motivations for Writers! #2

2A.girl.write..mouse_1Writers! Jump-start your day with more Monday Motivations!

Build up to writing the great American novel. Maybe that’s what is stopping you…the idea is so daunting. Remember there is no one great American novel.  There are just writers trying to tell great stories.   Start with a short story.  Or a piece of poetry.  I find ‘story-telling’ much less intimidating that way.

 “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  Ernest Hemingway

“what matters most is how well you walk through the fire”  Charles Bukowski

“I always try to be a learner.” Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer-prize winning writer, Professor UNC, contributing writer for the NY Times. 
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Sign up for my and receive your ‘Monday Motivations each week! Simple: type your email address in the box on my Home page (top/right). Click on ‘subscribe’.writer

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

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Want to see all of these (45) in one book? Click here.

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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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