Sunday, November 8, 2020

A Visit to the Old West

 Having grown up and lived in the West all my life, I have always been drawn to stories, books and movies set any place in the West. My dad and mom loved Western movies and stories so that was what I grew up watching and reading. It's still the part of the country where I set my own romance and mystery stories. That was part of what drew me to the books of author Mike Torreano.   He is the guest today in My Writing Corner. I always enjoy hearing authors' stories of how they come to be published and his story really hit home, especially since his latest book has just been released.

Welcome, Mike. what do you think are some of the challenges of being a writer?

We all have to work at our craft, that’s a common condition, but I find that marketing and social media are my biggest challenges. Stories seem to generally reveal themselves, whether that happens today or ‘tomorrow’. Marketing, as for many of us, is the toughest part for me.

Tell us about your road to publication.

Curiously enough, a rejection led to my first contract. Years ago, I received an email from my future editor who sent me the nicest rejection I’ve ever gotten. Personalized, and helpful, so about eight months later, I emailed her again with an outline of my new WIP, and thanked her for her previous spot-on feedback. She said she remembered me (don’t know if she did or not) and asked me to send my manuscript, ‘WHEN IT’S READY’.

I sent this new story in when it was well-polished and got my first ‘Congratulations!’ email back soon thereafter. Funny how a ‘no’ can become a ‘yes’.

How do you come up with your characters?

I think you have to have read a LOT in your genre, and/or be a keen student of human nature. We all write what we know, and so my characters are an honest amalgam of my reading, as well as a reflection of people I’ve come into contact with over the years.

How do you come up with plots?

I’m a ‘pantser’ rather than a ‘plotter, but pantsers still have to have a vague idea of what the story might be about, right? For me, the plot always comes to life itself over time, so what I concentrate on the most is crafting tension on every page. Tension is what pulls readers in my genre in the most. I believe that holds true for all genres, whether it’s the subtler tension of a literary work, or the overt action of a western. I try to reflect that everywhere-in my characters, their dialogue, internals, and even description. Find consistent ways to do that and you’ll have a faithful readership. Beyond tension, I work to create a second level of emotion everywhere, micro-tension, as Donald Maas calls it.

Tell us about your latest book.  What made you write it?

A Score to Settle is set on a cattle drive on the Goodnight-Loving trail in New Mexico Territory, 1870. Some of the events in the iconic western, Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, mirrored happenings on an 1867 drive on G-L. As I read more about Charles Goodnight and Owen Loving, that’s when I decided to site my story on their trail. Throw in the bedlam of a cattle drive, strong women and good men, killers after stolen gold, and a white-hot desire for revenge and the story pretty much wrote itself. 

Here's the blurb and it certainly drew me in!

Broken after his family is murdered, rancher Del Lawson signs on to a cattle drive along the Goodnight Loving trail in 1870—unaware he's still in danger. When he falls for a pretty Army nurse, the killers target her.

If he's to recover from his grief and build a new life, Del must set out on a gritty hunt for the men who are hunting him.

Meanwhile, Del's mother, Maybelle, doesn't know her son survived that murderous night. When she discovers the gold the killers are after, she uses the treasure in an elaborate masquerade to try to take the murderers down.

Will mother and son's plans reap justice—or destroy what's left of the Lawson clan?

Sounds like a wonderful read! What advice do you have for beginning writers?

DON’T waiting to start writing until you have the story all worked out in your head or on your storyboard. Take your hazy idea and start running with it. Often you’ll be happily surprised where you end up. Enjoy the ride!

What’s your next project? 

A friend brought me an idea that launched my initial research into White Sands Gold. The plot happens to involve an historical mystery that’s never been solved, which intrigued me. As I started writing, I decided I didn’t really have to solve this real-life mystery, I’d just create interesting characters struggling with the puzzle and see where they took things. The mystery still hangs nicely throughout the story as an historical backdrop, and the characters are sweeping the story along with them. I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out (said the pantser).

I think I've heard of that mystery! Good luck with the story, and thank you for being my guest.

Here is the information if you want to know more about Mike and his books.

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