This is the time of the year when we start looking for the books we want to buy as gifts or the writers we want to read over the holidays while on vacation. Today's author guest in My Writing Corner is one of those writers whose works are perfect for either objective.
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake, Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year--ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine.
As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
Tell us about your road to publication.
I’ve been committed to being an author for quite a while, though I’ve found the road to that destination bumpy at times. Like most writers, once I spent years writing, revising and strengthening my manuscript, I was hoping to secure an agent who would pitch my work to the big 5 publishers. I did extensive research on agents interested in handling my genre (mystery) and queried dozens. Several agents expressed an interest and requested partial or complete manuscripts, but in the end all passed. Undaunted, I researched and queries three small presses which had strong reputations and two offered me a contract. I signed with the Wild Rose Press in 2018 and it’s been a good partnership since. The first book in my Haunted Shores Mysteries series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE was published in 2019 and has done well, becoming a #1 bestseller on Amazon and B & N this summer. The second entry, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, has also followed in the same footsteps, earning bestseller status on Amazon this fall. SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER, the third installment in the series, was released this September.
How do you develop characters?
Since all of my stories are set in the world of school, most of my characters are those who populate this world—teachers, students, parents, administrators, support staff, board members. My three plus decades of experience in all levels of education from teacher to superintendent has provided me with a rich number of real characters to draw from. Most of my fictional characters are based on individuals I’ve known and worked with, with major characters often being composites of individual educators and parents.
What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?
The books in my Haunted Shores Mysteries series have been described as :cold-case murder mysteries wrapped in a ghost story, served with a side of romance, all set in beautiful resort locations. For this third entry, I knew I wanted to take Darrell to a great location on the Gulf coast of Florida and, after a good deal of research—completed right before the pandemic shut everything down—and discovered Crystal River. It became the perfect location for my story of the unexplained deaths of two Latino children, who haunt Darrell. Since Darrell and his new wife Erin are honeymooning there over the holidays, it allowed me to add the elements of a Christmas mystery to this installment. Based on the awards the new book has won and the five-star reviews it has garnered, I think the combination works.
Let's get a blurb!
All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.
When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.
Check out the video trailer for Scarlet At Crystal River.
What’s your next project?
This month I’m completing my full first draft of my next work, an amateur sleuth mystery entitled HARD LESSONS. It’s the story of a rogue drug sold to children in middle and high school in the 1990’s which leads to the death of five students. After a popular teacher is framed as the drug dealer, leaving the town and school community in shock, a school leader works with the local police to unmask those behind the drugs and murders before more children die.
What advice do you have for beginning writers?
As an emerging writer, I read and received much good advice, but two pieces I found particularly helpful. First, attend a few writing workshops in your area such as Killer Nashville (TN) and the Midwest Writers’ Workshop (IN) for me a midwestern guy. At these conference, new writers will find advice, encouragement, camaraderie and connections which can be very helpful in negotiating the many challenges of getting your work out there. Second, find and participate in a strong writers’ group. I’ve belonged to the Tuesday Dayton Writers’ Group for years and, though the membership of the group has changed over the years, I found the members’ review of my works in progress has truly helped me to bring my best work forward. Even the pandemic didn’t stop us as we moved to virtual meetings. Not to mention that these fellow writers become my greatest cheerleaders.
To learn more about Randy and buy his books, here are his social and buy links.
Social Media Handles
Tik Tok @authorrandyo
Thank you, Randy, for being my guest. Any comments or questions for Randy?