We just returned from four school presentations, including book signings, in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain, Utah. I travelled from Colorado Springs, and Naomi travelled from Phoenix. All preparations at the venues were made by our publicist, Andrea Lunceford. Andrea worked tirelessly setting up the engagements, advertising them, and handling all logistics; Teri Sale, our business manager, assisted her and did the accounting piece. Our sincere thanks go out to these lovely ladies.
In addition to book signings, Naomi and I conducted four mini-seminars on the writing and publishing process. We took questions at the end of each seminar. The students listened attentively and interacted enthusiastically. I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of this attentiveness and interaction. I had expected less, given the ages of the youth and the fact that in their eyes we might be just more blah-blah-blah. To say they were on the edges of their seats might be an overstatement, but not by much. This speaks to Andrea’s advance work and the work of the teachers in preparing their students. Our thanks to all.
In the seminars and during the book signings, Naomi and I defined and discussed five secrets to success in the writing process. We talked about (1) how to capture inspiration; (2) how to maintain momentum; (3) how to explore where you are; (4) how to free yourself from chronology; and (5) how to use setbacks as stepping stones.
The video linked here captures some of our discussion of number 5. Naomi emphasized using setbacks—rejections, criticism, self-doubt, editing and editors, etc.—to move forward, while I addressed the myth of writer’s block. Hands shot up all over the auditorium when we called for questions. The audience microphone failed so I had to run ours to each questioner and back for our answers. There were at least twenty hands still raised when lunch was announced.
I spent thirty years in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). I saw many things; experienced many things; and in the course of this seeing and experiencing, took a broad sample of humanity—including my own. Typically, police who turn to writing fiction choose police procedurals, either as novels or screenplays. These procedurals are usually realistic or hyper-realistic. I took another path, drawing on my police and mountaineering experience to write sword-and-sorcery fantasy with Naomi Sawyer. I didn’t have the heart to sit in front of a computer screen rehashing police war stories for hours on end, or to focus on the tragedies people can make of their lives. Plenty of writers do have the heart for this, and their work is sometimes important. I took another path.
I want to sell books; that is necessary to keep going. But I want more: I want to plant seeds in readers young and old, to convey something of what lies beyond “realism,” beyond what we think we know, beyond ourselves. In every child there is an emerging adult, and in every adult there is a remembered child. Naomi and I write to both.
- Chuck Sale