Whether you’re stretched out on a summer beach blanket or curled up in chair on a cool winter day, a classic way to spend Port Aransas Island Time is to settle down with a good book. Well, someone’s got to write those books, and this year, three Port Aransans published novels for you to enjoy.
John Evans is mostly retired from his 34 year civilian career with the Department of Defense. He worked for the Navy, the Army and the Defense Logistics Agency as a management analyst and financial manager. He currently does some management consulting in the defense industry but primarily now writes fictional books that have military, adventure and romance themes. John says that is due, no doubt, to his years working for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Comptroller, at the Pentagon.
“When I retired I wanted to keep working but I also wanted to do something different,” John says. “Many people leave the military and become consultants. I also do some consulting – because the pay is fantastic. But writing fictional books is fun for me. My theory about retirement is that whoever has the most fun…wins. In the five plus years since I retired from OSD I do less and less consulting.”
Encounter in Las Vegas is his third book. Since it addresses the predicted Mayan Armageddon of next year, he pushed to have it available before 2012. He was inspired to write this story not only because of the Mayan prediction, but also the ancient Sumerian mythology concerning ancient aliens that said they would return to Earth someday. He also wanted to provide a more realistic scenario for the military fighting aliens. John says, “Many claim that aliens would wipe humans out in a matter of hours with their advanced weapons. Several movies have depicted a few men or troops destroying the massive alien ships. I’m not sure either of those ideas is realistic, so I wrote my own version.”
It took him about six months to write the book and a couple of months to get it published. Inspiration comes to him when he’s fishing, beach walking or just hanging around the house daydreaming. He starts with an outline and makes extensive notes and profiles of the characters: their physical looks, personality, intentions, etc. With experience, he’s getting faster as he gets more comfortable with both the writing and publishing aspects of the book business. He credits neighbor Diana Fabrie with proofreading assistance.
He has already started a fourth book.
To learn more about John’s books, visit his Web site. His books are available through amazon.com in hard copy, paperback, and e-book format. They also may be ordered through Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books a Million, and many other stores. Encounter in Las Vegas is also available through the Kindle Bookstore in e-book format, worldwide. The list prices are $14.95 for paperback, $6.00 for the e-book.
No Kindle? No problem. You can download a free Kindle for PC app and read a Kindle book on your computer, or download a free Kindle for iPhone or iPad and use those devices to read a Kindle book.
Jon Christensen is a Port Aransas home-builder and business manager. But about 15 years ago, he got an idea for a story that kept rattling around in his head. He was inspired by the examples of the very strong women he’s known over the years. He was curious about what happens when a woman is left alone and must fend for herself and was intrigued about what life might have been like 130 years ago on the heels of the Civil War. “I can barely imagine how anyone survived, yet we are all descendants of those pioneers,” he says.
Over several months, he got the story down in loose-leaf binder form — in long-hand. (Anyone remember long-hand?). “Sometimes I would awaken in the middle of the night and write for hours,” Jon says. Editing was a major undertaking and he had to rely mainly on tools learned in high school English. He then set about trying to find a publisher or agent but when that went without success, pursued the self-publishing route. “I can scratch one more thing off my ‘bucket list,’” he says.
Writing is fun for him so he’s already got a few pages written on his next story. He’s encouraged by the sales he’s made and the complements he’s gotten from his readers who have asked about a sequel or a movie.
When people ask me what I do, I say I’m a writer. They ask what I’ve written and I list my publishing credits: in addition to the Dee-Scoveries column for the “Island Moon,” I’ve written the BUMPERTOBUMPER® textbooks and training materials for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the Easy CDL iPhone apps for commercial driver licensing test preparation, magazine and newspaper articles and even promotional copy for radio and television. Their eyes sort of glaze over because what they really want to know is “what NOVEL have you written?”
So in November of 2010, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, a writing marathon that challenges participants to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I met the challenge only to find out that when people ask “what novel have you written?’ they really mean “what novel have you written that’s PUBLISHED?” Now I can tell them “The Lost King.”
I like to think of The Lost King as a once-upon-a-time, fairy tale type story for grown-ups. Set in medieval times, it follows the adventures of King Bewilliam who awakens one morning not in his castle but in a cow pasture, inexplicably transformed from a beloved and respected ruler and dragon slayer of renown to a homeless and ragged vagabond. The lost king sets out on a quest to uncover and break the mysterious spell and regain his kingdom. Along the way he finds challenges, danger, romance and himself.
Unlike John Evans, I didn’t outline the plot or create character profiles. The NaNoWriMo process pretty much dictates that the author write whatever comes to mind, as quickly as possible. And unlike Jon Christensen, I did NOT write the novel in long-hand but banged out 50,000 words in 28 days of rapid-fire keyboarding. Over the next six months I added about 20,000 words to fill in blanks and tie up loose ends. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo 2011, but I did put in some hours editing and getting the manuscript ready for publication as a print book for $14.95 on amazon.com and as a Kindle book for $2.99. Find them here and here.
I do already have a next novel in mind and am planning to “attend” Camp NaNo, a summer writing marathon.
So whether it’s in the Ellis Memorial Library, on the beach or in front of the fireplace, settle in a comfy chair and enjoy a good read. I’ll see you there (unless I’m at work on my next novel).