I’ve been asked at times, “who are your favorite authors.” After all, a writer should above all, first and foremost be a reader of books. Even though it’s sometimes tough with my writing schedule and all the rest that goes on in life, I do get to read other writers. Among them my favorites are pretty predictable because they write like I do. C.J. Box, Nevada Barr, Craig Johnson, and Tony and Anne Hillerman lead the pack for me.
In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time reading thrillers and Dean Koontz hooked me into reading everything he wrote, even the old Richard Bachmann books he published under that name, because he was too prolific for his publisher’s liking. I just finished his book Good Guy, which has been out for quite a while, and I really loved it. Many don’t know that he also wrote a rather Zany semi romantic humorous story (the title escapes me right now) and I also took to heart his short book on writing and how to be an author.
You wouldn’t think just sitting for two days would be exhausting, but it can be. It can also be exhilarating fun. I recently spent two days at the Fall Festival on the Courthouse Square in Prescott selling and signing our books. I have to give a shout out to the organizers of the event from PWP: You did an amazing job!!
I got to meet some of the most interesting folks who stopped in to look at what the Professional Writers of Prescott’s booth had to offer from the dozen plus authors who participated. I also got to know authors on a different level and discovered some interesting things that surprised me...
I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about a newspaper article a friend from my park service days forwarded to a bunch of us. The essence of the article was that having parks that provide natural wild areas to spend time in is important to maintaining mental health and normal mental and emotional development. The changes in our society have brought us into intimacy with our devices and second hand video experiences more than providing unstructured reality to learn and benefit from.
Let’s talk writing for a bit.
There are words for everything. One of the things I’ve always been fascinated about is how they are used. For instance, let’s consider your mouth and throat. If you swallow milk you “drink” it. If you swallow medium rare prime rib you “eat it.” If you need a pill for a headache, you “take it.” It’s all swallowing, but you can look at it from a different perspective with each word and be clear and specific. You can’t drink the prime rib, or take it. Same with the others, and there are numerous other examples of the same kind of word rules.
Since I’m now over 50 and officially an AARP member, I am eligible for all sorts of financial deals. One that really appealed to me was the AARP car insurance deal where if you took their driver safety class you’d get a five percent discount on your car insurance. I ain’t no dummy, car insurance is expensive, especially if you own more than one car or have a kid under 25 still on your insurance plan.
So, I figured, I could sit still for a few hours on a hard chair in a dark basement of the Senior Center and take the class. After all, I’d had to take it every two years when I worked for the state. Piece of cake.
I’ve flown in big jets, small planes, and helicopters. I enjoyed none of it.
Today, I took my first flight in a balloon, well actually under the balloon, and I doubt it will be my last. Though the heat from the propane flames curled my hair, I lived through the experience. Ballooning has improved greatly since the French inventors began experimenting with it. At first, balloons were made out of paper and a wood fire was lit underneath to make it all rise…needless to say, the inventors were no fools and they refused to ride in it themselves, but they did force some convicts to be used for the purpose. Heck, if you’re on death row, I guess it’s not a big deal. Unfortunately, the convicts crashed and the peasants attacked and killed them thinking they were invaders.
When my son was in little league, everyone got a trophy on the team. No one was given any recognition (ever) as an individual. I think there is a lot of good in complimenting the group as a whole, but individual recognition is important too. When everyone gets a trophy, it means less…and perhaps even nothing. My son doesn’t even want his trophies.
When someone says to you individually that you are valued, that’s when it genuinely means something. When I served in the park service and the fire department, they always knew how to tell a person “Individually” that they mattered...at least they did for me. I don’t know if I did it as well as I should for my guys in those organizations, but I hope so.
Being on the top of a high mountain peak in the middle of a violent thunderstorm in Sedona isn’t smart, but it can be pretty exciting. So can walking down that mountain trail in the dark in the pouring rain, especially if your flashlight batteries die. I took this shot from Eagle’s Rest in Sedona at Red Rock State Park just before the storm hit.
I watch things. I think this helps as a writer to notice stuff, and I think with my law enforcement background it became a bit of a habit. I love to watch people and use them as character types in my books as well as using some of the things they actually do in my stories. I’ve also found some unusual things in observing what people do.
Did you know when you are driving and turn to look at the passenger, your car begins to move slightly to the right. It’s a body mechanics thing, and has to be countered with deliberate forethought, especially if you’re looking in the backseat screaming at the kids to settle them down….
I have always been an ardent fan of Tony Hillerman’s writing. His books transported me to one of my favorite landscapes in the rimrock country of the Navajo and Hopi reservations. I was working on getting an introduction to him by a good friend around the time Tony passed away, and I was sorely disappointed I couldn’t have shared a chat with him. Meeting a hero is a big deal to most of us. I was fortunate to meet C.J. Box and I’m working on Craig Johnson as my next target. Not as a stalker, I just appreciate their immense talent.