Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Beaves is Gettin' Spanked

"The Beaves is gettin' spanked," I said. She cackled. I laughed with her as I watched a huge thunderstorm roll through Beaver, Oklahoma on the weather radar. We laughed for several reasons. One, because the people out on the Panhandle of Oklahoma need the rain and so do we all. The aquifer under the Panhandle that feeds our rivers is extremely low, as we enter a tenth year of drought. Rain is a welcomed delight and the buckets have been falling this spring and summer. Thank you Mother Nature, even if you have set us back at least 4 weeks in construction. Second, we've taken to watching the weather out on the ranch. Charlie's family is out in Beaver, affectionately known to us as the Beaves, and we often think about them. It's kind of strange when characters feel real. It's kind of cool when the author's wife believes they are real too.
High Hearts
Back in June of 1987, I read High Hearts by Rita Mae Brown a few days before going to Williamsburg, Virginia. It was about a week into our relationship and our first trip together. Yes, I know. You are wondering why I was reading a book in the first days of our relationship. She taught summer school and I had a job that freed me in the afternoons. I devoured books back then. I was an English Literature major and read constantly, widely, and sometimes too fast. This particular book grabbed me with its vivid depictions of Calvary soldiers from the Civil War. The book won awards for historical accuracy. I was enthralled.

We were tooling down an ancient treelined two lane highway outside of Williamsburg, the Colonial Parkway. I spent this beautiful drive telling Deb about the serial killer that killed young lovers on that very parkway, including a lesbian couple, and was never caught. See, I've always been an amateur profiler, studying these guys. The seeds of the Rainey Bell Thriller Series were planted way back then. Anyway, my gruesome tale did not scare her off, though she did rapidly return to Williamsburg proper for a drink.

On the way back to civilization, we passed a field with a snake rail fence. I became extremely quiet, as I watched the Calvary leap the fences in a charge to the opposite wood. She asked me what I was looking at and I described it to her just like Rita Mae had to me. That became one of the things she loves about me, my stories. She has always been my best audience, because she can see it with me. After I've read something to her she'll say, "I was there," which is an amazing comment for a writer to hear. When the reader, or in this case listener, is right there with you, heart pounding, breath held in a gasp—yes, ma'am—that is what it is all about.
So, when I say, "The Beaves is gettin' spanked," and she smiles and laughs with me, I know she's thinking about Charlie's family out on the Panhandle and I know she loves me.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Yolanda Wallace stops by to play in the "My Writing Process" blog tour.

I'm hosting my friend and fellow writer Yolanda Wallace for the "My Writing Process" blog tour.  She also writes under the name Mason Dixon.  So, without further adieu... 


My Writing Process
I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow author R. E. Bradshaw. Every author answers the same four questions about her or his writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.
These are my answers:

#1 What am I working on?
I just finished proofreading my July and August releases, The War Within and Charm City. The two novels couldn’t be more different. The War Within deals with two seventysomething women who originally meet as Army nurses in Vietnam, part due to societal pressure, and encounter each other again forty-seven years later. Charm City, written under my Mason Dixon pen name, charts the adventures of a bare-knuckles boxer and an undercover cop on the gritty streets of Baltimore. My current project, when I can finally find the time to get back to it, is Feat of Clay, a period piece loosely based on the life of Alice Marble, the 1930s American tennis star who acted as a spy for the Allies during World War II. Feat of Clay features two female tennis players, one American and the other German, competing on the court, falling in love off of it, and trying not to become enemies as their countries edge closer to waging war.

#2 How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

Early on, my editor gave me a wonderful piece of advice. She told me to forget the occasional flights of fancy to which I was prone at that time and focus on real people with real problems. Since them, I have strived to make my characters as close to “normal” as possible. I want them to seem approachable. Like people the reader would want to strike up a conversation with if they passed each other on the street. Though romance novels are often viewed as escape mechanisms, not every protagonist needs to be independently wealthy, supermodel thin, or blond-haired and blue-eyed.
My varied locales set me apart as well. I don’t like to limit myself to one particular part of the country when I choose a setting. When I was in college, an amateur palm reader told me I wouldn’t travel much and I made it my mission to prove her wrong. My books, therefore, are just as peripatetic as I am. To quote the tag line from my business cards, I want my readers to “go between the covers and take a trip around the world.”

#3 Why do I write what I do?
Writers write because they have to write. Sometimes, writing feels equally as important as breathing.
I began writing because, like most fan fiction aficionados, I wanted to spend more time with a few of my favorite characters and, in some cases, give them the happy endings they didn’t receive the first time around. I began with short stories and gradually progressed to longer works. I gravitated to lesfic because I had been a fan of the genre ever since I read Rubyfruit Jungle in high school and I wanted to try my hand at creating strong female characters like the ones in RJ and the other books I devoured in the years since. Writing was a hobby. A much-needed outlet I performed in my spare time to put the doldrums of the work day behind me. It still is.
Standing in the LGBT section of my local bookstore several years ago trying to decide which book to buy, I never dreamed I would one day return to the store and see my books displayed on the shelves. I feel a responsibility to my readers to make sure each of my books is just as good as if not better than the one that came before. That’s the goal, anyway.

#4 How does my writing process work?
I read incessantly. At the dinner table. In my office at lunch. In the loo while I’m…Well, you know. I can get an idea from anywhere—a newspaper article, a headline in a magazine, or a throwaway comment in a movie or TV show. I carry a notebook with me at all times just in case I see or hear something that sparks my imagination. Sometimes, though, as was the case for my 2015 release Love’s Bounty, characters break into my dreams at night, fully-formed and demanding that their stories are told. The onus then falls on me to put their lives on paper to their sometimes exacting specifications. When that happens, I feel more like their conduit than their creator, which drastically reduces the amount of time I spend staring at a blank computer screen wishing the words would magically write themselves.


Authors I’m tagging:


Donna K. Ford and fellow Lambda Literary Award finalist D. Jackson Leigh

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My writing process...the blog tour.


I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow author Barb Winkes. Every author answers the same four questions about his or her writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.
These are my answers:

#1 What am I working on?
 Colde & Rainey
I just published the fourth novel in the Rainey Bell Thriller Series, Colde & Rainey. We are renovating our house. In between tearing out plaster and lathe, I’ve been working on a short story. I’d like to keep the details quiet on that one for the time being, but I will be moving on to several projects I’ve had in the works for some time. This summer, I hope to complete the Civil War novel based on the life of my family member, the original Rebecca Elizabeth Bradshaw. The jury is still out on whether she was a lesbian or not, but like the characters in my other novels her sexuality does not define her. Her incredible life was told to me by my relatives, who exclaimed often, “You are just like Decky Bradshaw.” I can only hope I have the courage and fortitude she left as her legacy. Toe to toe with General Sherman in April of 1865, Decky Bradshaw’s actions were heroic and worthy of being remembered. The war she fought was not for her country, but for her family’s survival.                              
#2 How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
I have written in several genres; romance, romantic comedy, mystery, thriller, and dabbled in historic fiction. When asked what I write, I generally answer mystery/thriller, as I have more of those than any other genre. I’m not sure that I’m all that different from others on that shelf, at least I hope not. As opposed to most thriller  protagonist, mine are always women and lesbian, but those are simply descriptive terms and not the essence of the character. Like John Sandford’s Prey series main character Lucas Davenport's family is important and we see him interact with them, but the criminal investigation is paramount. I’d like to think that my character’s sexuality is no more integral to the story than Lucas’s. As we advance into the post DOMA world, characters, particulary in the gay and lesbian fiction categories, will change with the political climate. There will always be homophobia, just as race discrimination still clings in portions of our society, but we will move on to novels that don’t require a sexuality label on our genre fiction. “She has a wife” will mean no more than “she has a husband.” I try to write that way now, ignoring the pulp fiction roots of lesbian literature, and moving on to an assumption that thrillers with lesbian protagonist should sit on the same shelf with Patterson, Cornwell, and Sandford.
#3 Why do I write what I do?
I have a vivid imagination and time on my hands. I was in that state for much of my childhood. I spent a lot of time alone, reenacting the scenes from the copious amounts of books my mother provided for us. Before we could see over the counter at the library, my brother and I had library cards, and spent many hours attempting to read all the books we could reach.
I explained to someone recently that life passes in front of me in moments, and that at anytime I am subject to pluck a moment from time and create a story in my head about it. Strangers have played out there lives in my imagination, for it seems my mind is constantly in need of a good story. Attention Deficit Disorder plays a huge part in that, and instead of a curse, I see it as a tool to creating worlds of my imagination.

So, when a moment passes and my mind creates a compelling story, I write it. The romances were generally generated from song lyrics; the Decky and Charlie adventures from living with the funniest woman in the world. The Rainey Bell Thrillers can be explained by my lifelong obsession with criminal investigation and behavioral analysis. It also explains why, while in New York and passing a large suitcase on the trash pile at the curb, I immediately heard a voice say, “There’s a story in that bag and probably a body.”
#4 How does my writing process work?
I begin with characters. I’ll see them in my mind and hear their voices. No, I’m not insane, but I do listen and watch as my mind plays out scenes for me. When I understand what it is that character wants to say, I begin to write. I generally know where I’m starting and ending, but I fly by the seat of my pants in the middle. The Rainey Bell series is a bit different, because I have to know where and when to plant the clues, so a pathway is essential. With the other books, outside of the mystery genre, I let them take me where they will. Sometimes the story will stall out or reverse course. If the writing doesn’t come easy, then I know something is wrong. I can struggle for days and then get hit with the answer while washing dishes.
I am fortunate that writing is my job. I write everyday. It may not be for a book, but I write. When a novel is coming fast and furious, I am subject to binge write. I have to watch the clock and force myself out of the chair every two hours for exercise and nourishment, but I will write for weeks on end. My wife, whom I appreciate beyond measure, assumes all responsibilities for our household during these weeks, as I am unable to vanquish the hold the fictional world has on me. To break away to reality is out of the question, because I must know how the story unfolds. I eat, sleep, and breathe with my characters until the tale is written. 



Authors I’m tagging are fellow Lambda Literay Award Finalists: Yolanda Wallace and Marshall Thornton
BOYSTOWN 6, From the Ashes by Marshall Thornton

Murphy's Law by Yolanda Wallace

 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Beach, Sand, Waves, Books—What more do you need?




R. E. Bradshaw will be among the more than twenty-five authors appearing at the New Smyrna Beach Book Festival, Friday through Sunday, October 4 – 6,  2013. Locations include the Best Western Oceanfront Hotel, 1401 S Atlantic Avenue, and the Hampton Inn, 
214 Flagler Avenue. Festival activities are free to the public.


Invited authors were selected through a committee that took recommendations from the community, educators, and state-wide literary groups. With book readings, Q&A sessions, book signings, writers' workshops, festival bookshop, and nightly author socials, the New Smyrna Beach Book Festival provides activities for everyone from the avid to the recreational reader.

R. E. Bradshaw will be discussing the latest in the award winning Rainey Bell Thriller series, The Rainey Season, at the Hampton Inn location, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. For a complete schedule and info on the attending authors follow this link: http://nsbfla.com/images/content/2013fall_bookfestival.pdf, or text “Author” to 71441 for a complete schedule sent to your smart phone.

"Meet the Author" socials are scheduled each night. Friday night's social will take place at Toni & Joe's Oceanfront Patio (309 Buenos Aires St) from 7 pm - 8:30 pm. Saturday's will be at Barracuda's Bar & Grill (203 S Atlantic Ave) also from 7 pm - 8:30 pm, and the Sunday night social is at Flagler Tavern (414 Flagler Ave) from 4:30 pm-6 pm.

“Come stick your toes in the sand with me and let’s talk about books.” ~ R. E. Bradshaw

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What did you learn?


Link to preview.

I have a book on my desk written and compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., entitled Live and Learn and Pass It On. The subtitle reads: “People ages 5 to 95 share what they’ve discovered about life, love, and other good stuff.” During the introduction, Brown discusses how on his fifty-first birthday he thought it would be interesting to jot down some of the things he had learned in a half a century of living. He wrote, “I’ve learned that…” twenty times on the left-hand side of a piece of paper. He then completed the twenty sentences. He enjoyed the activity enough to add it to his Sunday routine. One thing led to another, which led to a book filled with the wisdom of people just beginning to learn and those amazed to be still learning nearly one hundred years later.
Between the covers of the book are such pearls of wisdom as the ten-year-old’s words, “I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people that’s important. It’s what they do about it.” Or the sixty-six-year-old’s statement, “I’ve learned that nothing very bad or very good every lasts very long.” And my absolute favorite, today anyway, is the five-year-old who said, “I’ve learned that goldfish don’t like Jello.”
I sat down and wrote the first twenty things that came to mind. I’m sure my list would change from day to day, depending on what was on my mind, but here are just a few things I’ve learned in my first fifty-two years.
  1. I’ve learned that Dorothy was right. There is, in fact, no place like home, but home is where you make it.
  2. I’ve learned that plans never really go as planned. Being willing to adapt without fuss is the key to a happy vacation.
  3. I’ve learned that I should be thankful that the promise of tomorrow was kept. Every morning I rise is a good morning.
  4. I’ve learned that anything to excess is too much.
  5. I’ve learned that how people feel about themselves is more important than what anyone else thinks.
  6. I’ve learned that it is possible to eat healthy food and like it.
  7. I’ve learned that my parents were much younger than I thought they were when I was growing up.
  8. I’ve learned that seventy-five percent of the stuff I worry about never happens. Worry is not a smart investment of time and energy.
  9. I’ve learned that friends and loved ones can be taken in a tragic instant. Never take them for granted.
  10. I’ve learned that love at first sight is a real physical phenomenon. Our bodies recognize the connection before our hearts do.
  11.  I’ve learned that disciplining a cat only creates an enemy hell bent on terrorizing you.
  12. I’ve learned that knowing you are loved gives you wings.
  13. I’ve learned that finding a way to earn a living doing something you’re passionate about makes life so much more fun.
  14. I’ve learned that you’re never too old to pursue a dream.
  15. I’ve learned that I knew nothing about the proper glasses for consuming different kinds of wine, or that it even mattered. A Dixie cup was always just fine.
  16. I’ve learned that the compassion of a dog can heal a broken heart.
  17. I’ve learned that a home filled with laughter is a great place to be.
  18. I’ve learned that there is more truth to fiction than most people assume.
  19. I’ve learned that only our bodies age. My mind still thinks I’m 25.
  20. I’ve learned that I love to learn. The world is fascinating to me.

    I'll end with another favorite from Brown's book:

    "I've learned to keep looking ahead. There are still so many good books to read, sunsets to see, friends to visit, and old dogs to take walks with." —Age 86