Thursday, April 23, 2015

Editing with Word and Audio

Yesterday, I completed editing for my upcoming biography, For Liberty: A World War II Soldier’s Inspiring Life Story of Courage, Sacrifice, Survival and Resilience. I had an opportunity to do it a new way. The publisher sent me the final Word document and an audio file. The audio was not human recorded but automated. This led to a number of strange words such as when it recorded World War I instead of saying World War “one,” it said World War “eye”.

I played the audio and read the Word document as the recording flowed. This was very helpful in that sometimes I would catch an error from audio and sometimes from visual. This took about seven hours, the recorded time of the audio.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Audio Books

I love audio books. Whenever I’m driving by myself, I listen to books on CD. Currently I’m listening to Suspect by Robert Crais. This is a for a book club I’m in, and I enjoy reading with my ears as much as with my eyes.

I recently received the Books in Motion audio book edition of the fourth book in my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but actor,  Jerry Sciarrio, did an excellent job of recording the first three books in the series.

The next two books in the series are under contract with Books in Motion, so I’ll have a chance to continue to listen to Paul Jacobson and all his antics in the future as well.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

For Liberty: A World War II Soldier's Inspiring Life Story of Courage, Sacrifice, Survival and Resilience

I have a confession to make. I’ve traded in my fiction writing stripes for a foray into the world of non-fiction. This project is a labor of love. Two years ago, I met Ed, at that time 94 years old. He captivated me with his stories of fighting in Europe in World War II, being captured by the Germans and being liberated by the Russians.

For Liberty is the biography of a frontline soldier, fighting the Germans in World War II. Extraordinary are his experiences leading up to joining the army, his “kill or be killed” decisions in combat, the struggle to survive in a prisoner of war camp and the opportunity to meet Russians behind their lines at the time the Cold War was starting. On the night of New Years Eve 1944, Ed undertook the assignment of being a forward observer, only to be bombarded by the last German initiative on the Western Front, Operation North Wind. Throughout his life he continued to be a forward observer, connecting his experiences in the past with the unfolding future. His was not an easy life, struggling through the Depression years, losing 40% of his body weight while a prisoner, suffering what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder, losing custody of his first son, but bouncing back from his traumas to have a successful second marriage and to run a profitable small business. His life was full of dichotomies: His early education at an anarchist school set the stage for his inquiring mind; even without completing college, he developed a wealth of knowledge about history though his avid reading; although he hated Germans, he became the greatest chicken thief in all of Europe to support four German refugees; and throughout his life, in spite of the stress and trauma, he retained an impish sense of humor.

This book is under contract and will be published in the next two months.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Cover

It’s always exciting when I receive artwork for a new book cover. Yesterday, I got a look at the cover for Murder on the Switzerland Trail, my first historical mystery, which will be published in September of this year.

Here’s a blurb about the book: A Sunday excursion in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado, in 1919 leads to murder as intertwined lives play out a mystery on the Switzerland Trail railroad. Policeman Harry McBride must figure out who the murderer is before the train reaches the Boulder station on the return trip.

The cover captures the combination of mountains and railroad, key elements of the story. Here’s what it looks like:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tidbits from the Left Coast Crime Conference

Now that I’m home from the Left Coast Crime Conference that took place in Portland, I’ve had a chance to look through my notes. Here are some tidbits for you.

One panelist stated that a writing career is like a climbing wall. It’s not straight up. It’s up, over, down, over, up, etc.

Since I have a non-fiction book coming out soon about a World War II veteran, I appreciated a comment made: “Who doesn’t love to learn about World War II.”

I liked this statement: “In academia, the fights are so ferocious because the stakes are so small.”

As authors we’re always told to “show don’t tell.” One panelist modified this to “tell the boring parts and show the exciting parts.”

Another stated: “The key to being a writer is a healthy dose of self-delusion.”

We often hear about developing a strong voice. An important distinction was made on one panel that there are two connotations for voice. One is to distinguish specific characters. The other is the unique voice of the author.

One author received the following feedback on a manuscript: Everything looked good except for the need to make the protagonist more likeable, improve the mystery and tune up the writing.
Here are some of the people in the audience at the Meet the New Author Breakfast that I moderated:
It was an excellent conference and I celebrated afterwards by going to Disneyland with my wife, son, daughter-in-law and two grandkids.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Accept and Improve

Do you spend more time in the past or future than in the present?  Do you invest energy cursing your current situation rather than doing something about it?  Do you obsess about what you should have done?  Do you worry about what will happen?

I have been guilty of all of the above.  For starters I mull over what I should have done, the clever repartee I should have delivered, the thing left unsaid.  A small amount of this is okay.  It’s learning from mistakes and assessing previous actions.

Likewise, anticipating and planning ahead are positive attributes up to a point.  Again learning from past mistakes and applying the learning to future actions is a desirable trait.

The balance or “Golden Mean” of the situation is to not get so wrapped up in either history or planning the future that you miss the present.  Picture walking in a beautiful meadow with yellow, white, red, purple and blue wild-flowers dotting the emerald-green hillside while a bubbling brook rushes out of snow-capped peaks.  And being so preoccupied with the past or future that you don’t even notice your surroundings.  This is our predicament.  The moment has so much to offer in beauty, humor and life.  Don’t miss it.

So the secret entails accepting our current circumstances and making the most of the moment.  But the flip side involves implementing the actions to improve our situation.  We need to take responsibility.  We aren’t hermits sitting on a mountain ledge meditating our lives away.  We are vital human beings participating in the mystery of life.  We can always do things to improve the world around us.

Take the next step, visit the next valley, help someone in need--this is participating in the flow of moments.  Being alive now leads to being alive in the sequence of moments.  Life isn’t static.  We have an opportunity to grow our souls and improve the environment in which we live.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Left Coast Crime Conference 2015

One of my favorite conferences is coming up—The Left Coast Crime Conference. This year it’s in Portland and typically there are 400 to 500 attendees—mystery fans and mystery writers.

I’ll be hosting the Meet the New Authors Breakfast. This year we have 34 new authors who have published their first mystery/crime novel between January, 2014, and March, 2015.

I’ll also be on a panel titled Laughing Ain’t a Crime: Balancing Humor in Crime Fiction with Catriona McPherson, Cindy Brown, Heather Haven and Helen Smith.

I always look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at this conference.