Over the course of my writing career which spans fifty plus years (mostly journalism), I’ve always maintained a very realistic view of life and its crazy twists and turns. I’ve read a great deal and seem to be drawn toward the authors who were grounded in reality. I was never been a fan of paranormal, science fiction, or horror type writings. Stories that include a lot of divine intervention try my patience; same way with inaccuracies. Please don’t write a novel and have some eight-year old girl that plays on a Little League team become ‘better than the boys at stealing first base’. Or, in the same book, have a little league game go past six innings. That doesn’t happen unless it’s a tie score. If you’re going to write a novel featuring the military, YOU should know the difference between the army and the marines. To summarize, I usually write from experience. I’ve either done what I describe, been there, or saw it happen. I don’t need a lot of reference materials to write; just some journal notes to jog my memory.
In evaluating my book sales over this past year, I noticed several common threads to my better sellers. Also I determined why some of my novels and screenplays don’t sell well. Westerns, no matter how well written, are difficult to sell. Those that read them really like them but there just aren’t a lot of ‘western fans’ anymore. Formatting and editing hurt some of my work and I’ve resolved to repair those works by the end of the first quarter of 2012. Some folks don’t like to read screenplays. That I can’t control. However, there are some good stories included and perhaps by the end of next year several of the screenplays will be written into novels.
The novels that sell the best are:
ALASKA BE DAMNED
MURDER IN PANAMA
THE LAST FRUIT STAND ON GUAM.
The common thread that drives readers to recommend these novels is heroics. Not the knight against the dragon heroics but the courage it takes to fight the system (Ben Reed in ABD), the will and skill to right a lot of wrongs (Jimmy Hart in MIP), and the least probable character rising to the occasion during a natural disaster (Skid McMasters in LFS). PARTNERS, features a couple of characters (RC Bellars & Curtis Dawson), that strive for freedom and independence in a modern world that no longer rewards or even recognizes those traits.
SO, the PARADIGM SHIFT I mentioned will be away from romantic comedies and more toward the unsung heroics of ordinary people.
Currently I am writing a sequel to MURDER IN PANAMA, and a contemporary western that features the characters in PARTNERS. In the background I’m writing a non-fiction book. This book chronicles my health issues and my unorthodox solutions and techniques that allow me to live a full life in spite of several doctors’ dire prognosis.
Have a swell Xmas and New year!