All Posts in Category: About the Book
No, I haven’t given up writing.
That to my readers who regularly ask the related question. Thanks for asking.
Actually, I completed my third novel some time ago. I think it’s written well enough–in fact, I think it’s pretty darn good–but wife Becky thinks it’s too dark, that maybe I shouldn’t be writing that kind of stuff. Not that Where Shadows Loom didn’t have its–well, shadows. She liked it well enough, or so she said. But this third one, Water Standing, was my attempt at a full-blown dark story, a la Edgar Allen Poe with a dash of Stephen King. Or is it the other way around? However feeble some may judge the attempt, it was fun to write; dark stuff usually is. The human psyche being checkered and all.
So, we’ll see what comes of it. Maybe I’ll post chapters of Water Standing, one at a time, to gauge your interest.
Meanwhile, I write when the spirit moves me, searching for just the right vehicle of expression. I want to write something uplifting, now that I’ve tiptoed out from the standing water. Maybe a love story of sorts; I’m a sap for a good love story. Like I said, we’ll see.
Thanks again for asking about my writing. As always, I appreciate your interest, your reading of my work, and your passing the word. My marketing skills need all the word-passing they can get.
Until next time, let’s all keep reading good books. If you need an idea, I have a couple.
I just want to take up a little cyberspace to say thanks to those of you who have commented so favorably about Where Shadows Loom. As I have said many times, that means more to me than you know. For me to take blank sheets of paper–cyber or perfect bound–turn them into a story, and then have you, the reader, say it was a task well done–well, that truly is the essence of what motivates me as a writer of fiction. Moreover, my success as an author is directly correlated to your promotion of my work as a reader. In a nutshell, I depend on you.
So, thanks again for the kind words. They are at times overwhelming and yet humbling always. Now, if you will–please–turn those kind words into favorable reviews and into a subject of conversation, I will be grateful all the more. After all, a writer needs an audience, or what’s the effort for?
The setting of my new novel, Where Shadows Loom, is a contemporary small town in the western most reaches of the Eagle Ford shale oil play in South Texas. I named this town Hubert Switch. Why do I bring this up? Well, recently, a reader asked me where exactly is Hubert Switch. Does it really exist? I get this question of setting quite a bit actually, where both my novels are concerned. My reply is always the same: it’s wherever you want it to be. As a writer, that’s generally how I look at questions that concern setting. I provide the description of place, the characters that populate that space in time, and you, the reader, with your imagination, conjure up images that utilize those ingredients as you may.
Isn’t that the beauty of reading fiction? Isn’t that what sets it apart from other forms of entertainment, from other forms of communication, information, even art? The author strings together the words, but you, the reader, envisions those words into places and faces–the presence of each, the significance of each–as you see fit. For me, as both a writer and a reader of fiction, that is indeed the beauty of it. The writer and the reader both are required. And the results are limited only by the number of readers who involve themselves to complete the task. Maybe only by degrees, but the reader’s image of Hubert Switch will be different than mine. The reader’s take, your take, on Wendall Connor, on Conrad Murphy, on Sergio Guajardo each will be different than mine.
But back to the question about Hubert Switch, Texas. Does it really exist? Well, in a form, it does. As the photograph attests, it is a real place. It occupies space, at this very moment in time, literally. A simple railroad switch, (which, incidentally, is little more than a junction for changing railway destinations) in San Patricio County, Texas, Hubert Switch lies just down the road from where I grew up. Out in the middle of nowhere, it has never been more than that, but with this author’s imagination, it was moved ninety or so miles northwest and was populated with enough people to build it into a living, breathing, small town. Beyond that, you, the reader, tell me about Hubert Switch. Where is it, exactly? What kind of place is it, exactly? I look forward to hearing what your imagination conjures up.
Because that’s the beauty of the written word.
Ever stood between canyon walls and yelled a word or two?
Like virtually all of you, I have. In fact, I’m standing along a rugged, geological basin right now–between two sheer, rock cliffs–shouting at the top of my lungs. Metaphorically, of course. Don’t anybody call 9-1-1 to have the Loony Farm come pick me up. But you see, every writer, short of those fortunate few at the pinnacle of success, needs readers to echo the release of a new book.
So, here I am, hands cupped around my open mouth, screaming, “PASS THE WORD: WHERE SHADOWS LOOM IS OUT!”
It’s easy enough to do. Type Gary C. Stalcup inside the search bar of most any online bookstore, and that will take you to Where Shadows Loom and Wandering West, paperbacks and eBooks alike. Amazon and Barnes & Noble are two popular sites, but don’t forget Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Alibris, etc. Your local brick-and-mortar store can get it for you, if they don’t already have it in stock.
Then again, just share this post, retweet it a time or two. Pass it along on Goodreads. Let people know they can google it, for crying out loud. And here’s a novel approach, pardon the pun (I couldn’t help myself.): talk to people about it. There are any number of ways to echo the release of a new novel.
And, of course, the easiest of all: go to garycstalcup.com and click on the Buy tab.
Thanks, as always, everyone. I hear you shouting already.
Please–please–no more temper tantrums directed at me from impatient, would-be readers. . .
Where Shadows Loom is on the shelf! Yes! Finally!
For the next few weeks, the paperback version and the eBook version will be sold exclusively through the publisher via my website, garycstalcup.com. Subsequently, as with Wandering West, all versions of the book will be available, via globalREACH retail distribution, on such online sites as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Bookstore, Alibris, as well as in many brick-and-mortar retail outlets.
So plan your holiday shopping accordingly. Now you have Where Shadows Loom and Wandering West both to add to your cart.
And while you’re here, once you’ve placed your order, take a moment to poke around my new and improved website, compliments of Carlos DeSantos. Carlos does amazing work. And after you’ve placed that order for a zillion copies, check out his website at catdi.com. Carlos has a service to fit your need, just as he did mine.
Thanks again to one and all. Your support is what keeps this writer writing. And as always, let me know your thoughts.
Wendall Connor isn’t sure what to believe anymore. His mind has begun to play tricks on
him. After seven years in the NFL, he has suffered more concussions than he can count.
And what can he do about it anyway? A throbbing mass of mangled flesh and splintered
bone, his body is held together by little more than titanium steel, surgical glue, and the
sheer determination to put off the next surgery for as long as he can.
But he has to do something. Who else is there?
His friend and neighbor across the street, U.S. Senator Juanita Guajardo’s son, and the
loan officer at the bank are both missing. Wendall left them alone for only a few minutes
and now they’re gone. Are their stories true, as fantastic as they seem, or is this another
distortion created in Wendall’s addled mind?
Did his friend and business associate, Conrad Murphy, really kidnap Sergio Guajardo?
Would he really murder Lester Russell? Wendall Connor knows Conrad Murphy is selfish
and demanding. He’s well aware that Conrad’s business empire is struggling, and he once
witnessed Conrad’s violent temper firsthand. But is the man so desperate he would steal
public funds and then kill Lester Russell because the poor guy overheard the details of
In this rugged, desolate area of the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, the oil boom has
gone bust, and where the gushers once flowed, now only drastic measures course through
the veins of those so perilously levered for success.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Where Shadows Loom will be going live before long. I still have the galley to proof and the cover design to approve–that sort of thing. Now that it’s about done, I can say I had fun writing this book, its twists and turns, developing its unsavory characters. The story is largely about greed, how it can get the better of people. One bad act leads to another and so on. It is also about one’s facing his or her fears. These characters are forced to confront issues that have haunted them throughout their lives. How they deal with these confrontations is what propels the story to its conclusion.
As you have probably figured out, Where Shadows Loom is a departure from Wandering West. Though Wandering West certainly has its episodes of suspense, Shadows is a suspense novel, a genre that seems to come naturally to me. I hope you enjoy the read, and as always, let me know your thoughts.
Meanwhile, I feel another story stirring inside these creaky old bones. Time will tell whether or not this one succeeds in nudging my quiescent brain into the manic state of writing fiction. If it appears destined to make its way onto perfect-bound paper and electronic screens, I’ll let you know.
For my readers and my readers-to-be, Where Shadows Loom is going through final editing as I write this post. I’m excited about this dark novel of suspense. The feedback, thus far, has been encouraging indeed. So look for the release later this year. I’ll have more to say about that as time goes on. Meanwhile, for those of you who still fall into the reader-to-be camp, my publisher is offering Wandering West free of shipping now through May 4th. Use code MAYDAY right here at my website under the ‘Book’ tab.
Where Shadows Loom is quite a departure from Wandering West, but the latter will give you a sense of my writing style. And who knows, maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe that snotty-nosed kid-turned gimpy-legged old man from South Texas really can spin a yarn. That’s not for me to say. Ask one of my readers about that. Better yet, pick up a copy of Wandering West and decide for yourself. Maybe you’ll be encouraged to write a review and help me get the word out. If you do, thanks in advance!
I realize this past full moon was no blue moon. How could it be? It occurred on November the sixth. It’s mathematically impossible to be a blue moon. It’s astronomically impossible.
Most full moons–blue moons included–are cause for angst. For me anyway. I dread them. I really do, in a mild, casual sort of way. Experience has taught me that full moons, more often than not, bring with them more than night shadows and starless skies. They generally bring me higher blood pressure and sometimes a bruise or two from furniture jumping in my path at the most inopportune times. There are goblins and spooks in those shadows. Pranksters for sure. I’m telling you, there are. Full moons make things happen. Most of those happenings are of the unpleasant variety. I could go on and on about my bloodied, nerve-wracked bouts with full moons, but that’s not why I’m writing this post. Not this time anyway.
I’m writing about the fact that this past full moon was a blue moon of sorts. It was one of those rare occasions when the stars align themselves to my unexpected pleasure. This time, there was a distinct lack of furniture jumping in front of my shins, and the blood pressuring through my veins was surely a meander. For once, there was no struggle between imagination and actual occurrence. My focus was harnessed in fact. The coffee table sat perfectly still. Even my heartbeat was steady, harmonious and rhythmic. Pleasant things occurred. This time, they did.
First, out of the blue–pardon me for overusing that word, but I couldn’t help myself–I got a call from my marketing person with the publisher. She imparted no startling piece of news really. She just wanted to ask how I was doing and pass along the comment that she uses Wandering West as an example for would-be authors to follow. I’m not sure what the significance is to that, but you must admit, it’s a rather kind thing to say. Especially to an author who mopes around waiting for kindly spoken comments about his book. Then, not long after I set my smartphone on my desk–without its giving even one hint of leaping to the hard, unforgiving, tile floor–I got an email from Writer’s Digest. I had long since forgotten that I had sent the publication a copy of Wandering West for a review. It so happens that Wandering West was critiqued in glowing terms. I mean, they rated it a 5 in every writing category (5 being the best on a scale of 1 to 5). The only blemish received was the publisher’s cover design which measured in at a 4. Not too shabby. I thought about pasting those comments for you here, but in some ways, it explains too much of the story for those of you who have been dilatory in picking up a copy of my book. Incidentally, you can do that right here on my website, as soon as you finish reading this post. Oh and shipping is free for the next few days with code HSQ2. Talk about blue moons. I wonder if that’s the publisher’s way of apologizing for Writer’s Digest’s sticking my cover design with a 4. I need to see if I can leverage that somehow. And speaking of picking up copies of Wandering West, I moseyed on over to my account on the publisher’s website and, to my great pleasure, discovered that I had sold more books in the past few days than I had in the entire previous month.
So, all in all, November’s full moon was not so bad an occurrence. Once in a blue moon, the full ones are like that.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of peddling to literary agents WHERE SHADOWS LOOM, my recently-completed suspense novel set in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas. A few weeks ago my query letter gained the attention of a highly-regarded literary agent in New York. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Signing with a big-time agent is a big deal. It can be a game changer. Doors will likely open that otherwise would not, at least not for a little ole writer like me. This guy read my manuscript, said he found the story “very compelling,” but after mulling it over, declined to represent me because “this genre is really struggling right now.”
My question is: What genre? Suspense/Thrillers? That genre appears to me to be healthy enough. I suspect–which is all I can do since I can’t read the collective minds of the publishing establishment–the guy was referring to westerns. You see, thus far, my stories have all been set in Texas, and so, naturally, they must all be considered westerns, right? Of course, the agent knows better. He read the story, after all. But his point is well taken: would-be readers will make that assumption, right or wrong. I know that is at least somewhat true, but why? Why is a thriller set in California not pigeonholed this way? Or one set in Connecticut? Or Florida?
I can’t do much about the stereotype, and for a guy born and raised in Texas, writing stories set somewhere else that attempt to reflect life seems a bit disingenuous, pretentious even. A setting is merely the vehicle for which the writer states his/her case. WANDERING WEST is not exactly a contemporary western, though I can see where readers who read word lines and not the spaces between them might draw such an incomplete and inaccurate conclusion.
So you be the judge. Below is the body of my query for WHERE SHADOWS LOOM. You tell me, after reading it, whether or not you deem the premise to be a western of sorts or a thriller of sorts. If you want to call it a contemporary western thriller, so be it. I can live with that, so long as that loose interpretation doesn’t prejudice your thinking before actually reading the story.
Wendall Connor isn’t sure what to believe anymore. His mind has begun to play tricks on him. After seven years in the NFL, he has suffered concussion more times than he can count. And what can he do about it anyway? A throbbing mass of mangled flesh and splintered bone, his body is held together by little more than titanium steel, surgical glue, and the sheer determination to put off the next surgery for as long as he can.
But he has to do something. Who else is there?
His friend and neighbor across the street, U.S. Senator Juanita Guajardo’s son, and the loan officer at the bank are both missing. Wendall left them alone for only a few minutes and now they’re gone. Are their stories true, as fantastic as they seem, or is this another distortion created in Wendall’s addled mind?
Did his friend and business associate, Conrad Murphy, really kidnap Sergio Guajardo? Would he really murder Lester Russell? Wendall Connor knows Conrad Murphy is selfish and demanding. He’s well aware that Conrad’s business empire is struggling, and he once witnessed Conrad’s violent temper firsthand. But is the man so desperate he would steal public funds and then kill Lester Russell because the poor guy overheard the details of that scheme?
WHERE SHADOWS LOOM is an 82,537-word suspense novel set in a rugged, desolate area of the Eagle Ford Shale oil play in South Texas where the boom has gone bust.
So that’s my basic query for attracting the interest of agents and publishers. Regarding the genre, let me know your thoughts. A writer trying to break preconceptions in a world of preconceptions needs all the help he can get.