Monday, July 27, 2015

Ten Years Ago Today...

I’m a sucker for anniversaries and commemorations. It’s probably an offshoot of my love of history or, rather, perhaps my love of history makes me keenly aware of dates and things. Ten years ago this summer, my family and I took a vacation. It was on that vacation that I began writing what would become my first novel. It’s called Treason at Hanford and it features Harry Truman as the protagonist.

Not knowing how to write a book, I fell back on my experience writing my thesis. A key to that endeavor was a common file in which I kept the status for my professor. I figured if it worked for a thesis, it should also work as a novel. I did not want to take my laptop—vacation, remember—so I bought a good, old-fashioned composition book. I also brought some post-it notes, pens of many colors, and a pencil.

Ten years ago this coming Monday, 27 July, I started. It was a brainstorming session. I had the vision of a single scene. This scene was crucial and I made a decision that has led to a pattern ten years on: I would write all first drafts chronologically. This scene took place later in the book. With my copious notes and in this comp book and obsessive dating, I finally got to that scene on 21 May 2006. It was a long wait, but it was oh so earned.

I have read through this comp book/journal more than once in the past few years. I go back to it when I was feeling particularly discouraged in 2008-2013. You see, while I wrote this first book from 27 July 2005 to 1 June 2006, I didn’t start and finish another long project until May-June 2013. In these years, I used to joke that it’s taken me longer NOT to write my second book than it did to write my first. That was a bad stretch, I’ll admit, one in which I dreamed about writing and wrote about writing much more than actually writing.

That last thing was something I swore not to do once I started back up in May 2013. I us

And I’ve rarely done it since. In the past two years, I’ve started and completed seven longer projects and I’m not sure how many short stories. Maybe I needed the discouraging time to get me going. I don’t know. There are days, here in 2015, when I wonder what my professional author life might have been if I had actually completed books from 2006 to 2013, but I don’t dwell there. I see 1 May 2013 as my Writer’s New Year’s Day. That was the day I decided I would pick up the pen again, write, and complete things.

And I’ve not looked back since.

But it all started ten years ago on Monday. 27 July 2005. One of the most important days of my writing life.

So, do y’all have a specific date that you can point to and say your writing career started on that day?

Update: We're Back!

Sometimes, after some thought, you made a different decision.

Back in March, I launched my official author website ( and publishing house ( My intention was to leave this blogspot account and transfer all future posts to the author account.

Then I thought “Why?” Why not post to both places? It’s no big deal. And longtime readers probably have the blogspot address bookmarked and may have been missing posts. If other readers are like me, I tend to lock in a URL and then forget about it.

So, I’m back here. I’ll be cross-posting to both sites.

The reason: the next post...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Brad Meltzer is My New Favorite Author Interviewee!

The best thing I heard this week were two interviews Brad Meltzer gave via podcasts. The first was the latest installment of Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman. I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: when Smith interviews a creator and deep dives into what makes that creator tick, it is some of the most inspirational things I’ve ever listened to. I had already gone back and re-listened to the Mark Hamill episodes before the Meltzer episode dropped. What’s great about Smith and Meltzer talking is that they’re me. They are about a year or two younger than I am so they lived the geek life I lived. But the material, the life experiences they discuss are wonderfully profound. Just listen to Meltzer’s comment about a ‘parent’s love in bottled form.’ I'm not ashamed to say that some of the discussion moved me, even sitting at my desk at the day job. Brilliant.

Throughout the podcast, Smith kept referencing “Hardwick” and needing to get Meltzer out in under an hour. It turns out that Meltzer was going on The Nerdist podcast with Chris Hardwick. Never heard of it but, in the high I felt right after the Fat Man episode, I immediately downloaded the Meltzer interview at the Nerdist. Holy moley! Even more Meltzer goodness. There was only about 5-10% of common material between the two episodes. What comes across is that Meltzer is a genuinely nice guy, the kind of person who’d invite you to sit down and talk with him even if he didn’t know you. I was eagerly awaiting the release of The President’s Shadow, his third Beecher White novel, and I snatched up the audiobook on release day (narrated by audio superstar Scott Brick). After hearing both of these episodes, I went home, pulled my copy of Identity Crisis from my bookshelf for a re-read (it’s been seven or eight years). I got the issue numbers he wrote for Green Arrow and Justice League and plan on getting those trade paperbacks soon.  I even checked my local listings on when Meltzer’s TV shows come on. 

Houston wasn’t on Meltzer’s tour schedule this year. That’s a shame, but these two podcasts make up for not seeing him in person. In a way, however, these two podcasts actually let you get to know the man more than a book event. That won’t stop me from hoping that his next project brings him to Houston. I want tell him thanks for being my inspiration this week.

BTW, The Nerdist podcast is awesome! I’ve already and listened to episodes featuring Tom Bergeron, William Shatner, Grant Morrison, and Mark Hamill. And there are something like 600 episodes. It's like July!

I'm a history major so I wouldn't be myself if I didn't acknowledge that today is Independence Day in the United States. Here is how John Adams predicted the great day (in his mind, 2 July) would be celebrated:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

I think he pretty much nailed it.