What inspired you to write?
While touring years ago as a business owner and speaker, I was oft approached by US war veterans who had struggled to readjust after returning from combat. I was not a trained therapist, but a good listener. Perhaps that’s why they reached out to me with their battlefield stories, and why they shared with me their inner conflicts which still raged. It was my first-hand introduction to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
After I retired from the business world in 2008, my life became quiet—almost too quiet. My thoughts drifted back to the veterans again, their struggles, their heroism. Their story needed to be told. But how?
Was your inspiration sudden, or did it take time?
My inspiration for No Pit So Deep was years in the making, and yet it arrived as suddenly and unexpectedly as a midnight flood.
It happened this way: One evening in 2014, in the quietness of my retirement, a riveting fiction story, one I had never heard before, rushed into my head with captivating characters and the beginnings of a thrilling storyline. Where had it come from? It dominated my thoughts for nearly six months. Did it have some special meaning?
Finally, the light dawned; the fiction drama floating around in my head would provide the perfect safe harbor in which to anchor real stories from the real heroes I had known. As I began to write, the story grew in depth. I worked on the two-part series for nearly three years before publishing No Pit So Deep, The Cody Musket Story, a novel
containing real events.
Did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
No outline. When writing some scenes, I could hear the characters talking. I could read their body language, facial expressions, hear their voices. I wrote down what I heard and saw. I know it sounds weird, but I'm just sayin' . . .
What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
The most difficult writing for me was the dialogue between Cody and Brandi. It needed chemistry, needed to be spicy, sweet, humorous, and serious. Since my wife Carla was my inspiration for the character of Brandi, I offered to include her as a co-writer, but she said, “No thanks.” I told her I preferred to list a female co-author in the credits, because writing Brandi’s parts would require me to think like a woman and I didn’t want my friends to know I had written it myself. She laughed. But when she read the finished story, she cried real tears.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
I got my biggest jolt while writing the humor which serves as fresh comic relief amidst the dark parts of the story. I enjoyed the baseball scenes for the same reason. I laughed so hard that I often had to catch my breath, saying, "I really crack myself up!" Then I wondered if readers would even think it was funny at all.
After the book was published, were you changed?
Yes, I was changed after the book was released. I had never dreamed that I would someday compile real events into an epic drama to honor real heroes I had known. I was immeasurably touched when the first reviews started rolling in to discover that I had written something which moves people.
Have you received any awards for your book(s)?
No Pit So Deep, Book 1, was a finalist for the 2016 ATAI Romance Novel Awards, and was included in the Publishers Weekly 2016 Top Mystery/Thriller list.
Are you working on a new book at the moment?
I am working on a book of short stories featuring the same characters from the No Pit So Deep series.
Do you have any book giveaways, contests or events coming up?
We have given away several hundred ebooks and paperbacks, some during special promotions and others through contests. We will plan more of the same this year. We are also looking to donate paperback copies to VA hospitals and libraries. If you know a facility interested, please have them contact me at email@example.com
What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
Dealing with criticism? No strategy; just a principle—whatever it takes to improve my writing. Be grateful for someone bold enough to tell you what he/she really thinks, especially a friend. At the same time, be wary of swallowing every negative comment. Readers will have differing opinions, and some reviewers will make comments without reading the whole book. Some professional reviewers, for example, will scan and skim with no intention to engage with or feel the story—an inevitable reality because they are required to read so many books. Just keep that in mind and try to glean whatever gems of wisdom they may offer without losing confidence in your writing.
What is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
When I was 10 years old, my dad bought me a nine-foot genuine leather bullwhip advertised as "hand-made by real Texas Comanche Indians." Never mind that the actual manufacturer's tag read 'Made in New Jersey.' (LOL)
I practiced with the whip 'til I thought I was really good. One day I decided to show my friend Charlie that I could pop a stick right out of his hand. Everything was great until I accidentally whacked him across face with the business end of the whip! Needless to say, I needed more practice . . .
Do you have a favorite quote?
"Blessed is he who can laugh at himself, for he shall be ever amused." -- Unknown
The Final Countdown
Wild At Heart by John Eldredge
Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Is there a talent you wish you had?
The ability to fly without an aircraft!
What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I was once under house arrest in Mexico. I'm a pilot with 8000 hours in the air. In 1984, I received an emergency call at midnight. Two friends had crashed their aircraft while on a medical mission flight in Mexico. I was asked to go fly them out of the country.
After arriving in Monterrey, I found myself being followed by Federales, and then under "house arrest" in my hotel room. I was bewildered until my associate read the Monterrey newspaper which wrongly reported that the injured pilots we had come to save had been dealing drugs. They were under arrest with minimal medical attention, quickly going into shock from their injuries.
Back in Texas, my wife Carla, who can be quite the alpha female, began yanking chains with the American Embassy. Within twenty-four hours I was airborne out of Monterrey with the injured on board. We got them back to an American hospital just in time to save their lives.
Describe yourself in 3 words!
Comic, dreamer, realist.
What inspired you to write?