When the Writing Bug Bit

Many people ask me why I started on this new career as an author.  They wonder if I’ve always had the writing bug.  When my boys were young, I used to write short stories for them.  They were always the heroes.  I’m sorry I did not keep those stories as they grew older.  That, however, had not put the writing bug in me.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog
Writing Bug

It all started when I was asked to write an article for a blog (http://memoirsfromnam.blogspot.com/) about my experiences in Vietnam.  I submitted the article and it was published.  The blog owner, a published author, asked how long I had been writing.  I replied that I hadn’t ever been and she replied that I should.  That was about a year and three months ago.  My wife has often told me that I am a great storyteller.  (We’re talking about family history kinds of stories.)  She encouraged me to take some time to try writing a novel.   Since then I have written and published Meant to Be and The Couples.  My third novel in the Meant to Be series, Finding Each Other, is currently being edited and I have over 20,000 words written for my fourth book in the series.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog

There is NO cure!

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog

The only relief is writing!

I may not have always had the writing bug, but now that it has bitten me, I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.  I love writing.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a fully formed story in my head and spend the next four hours writing it down.  Other times, I will be doing something completely unrelated to my writing and a new character or plotline will fill my imagination.  I then have to stop what I’m doing, open my laptop, and start writing.   I don’t do outlines.  My process includes first developing the characters and then they tell me their stories.  The stories they tell me always provide twists and turns.  I follow them wherever they take me.  Sometimes I am as surprised at the outcome of a relationship as I’m sure my readers will be.  Occasionally a subplot will be very interesting but not fit the main thrust of the book.  I save those for subsequent novels.

Meant to Be introduces the reader to Meyer and Joan, the main characters.   They meet in the library when they are 4 and 5 years old, respectively.   At the time, they had no idea the two of them would be spending a lifetime together.  Their friendship took off slowly due to their age difference.  Joan did not want to bother with someone who was not old enough to be entering kindergarten. They reconnected a few years later when Meyer’s family moved from Iowa to the Seattle area, where Joan’s family had moved the year before.

Joan and Meyer remain friends throughout their high school years until Meyer leaves for Viet Nam and Joan’s family experiences a tragedy that impacts Joan’s view of friends and family.  The interactions of three generations of friends and family help them reconnect so that they can celebrate the good times and get through the difficult and tragic times as loving partners.

I had so many ideas for future characters and storylines, I realized Meant to Be would never come to an end.  It was then I decided to break the book into a series.  The Couples continues the theme of people who may belong together and how the world around them helps, or sometimes defeats them, in their search for a life partner.  It follows the lives of couples, their friends, and their support systems, as they explore their relationships.

Meyer and Joan return in The Couples, along with several other characters from Meant to Be.  New people are introduced who also interact with Meyer, Joan, and others.  Anna and Michael, both of whom are techies, are the main characters.  Michael is emotionally hurting due to the sudden death of his fiancée a few weeks before their wedding.  Anna has to get over her poor self-image and learn to trust her feelings.  The book centers on their ability to help each other and to grow to become a couple.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog

Couples

There are several supporting characters.  One of them is suddenly confronted with the opportunity to become the mother of the daughter she gave up for adoption ten years earlier.  Another is a rape victim who is trying to rejoin society as a whole person.  Also there is a teenage boy musician who is trying to get past his unrequited love and finds happiness with a ranch girl. These and several others come together as a community to support each other in finding their life partner.

My hope is that the characters in these books are people that readers will want to know.  You will laugh, cry, and love with them as they seek the partner they are meant to be with for the rest of their lives.

What motivated you to become an author?  When did that writing bug bite?  This is my third major career, but I’m sure it is the last.  I will write for the rest of my life.  How many careers have you had?  Do you expect writing to be the last?

Happy Reading and Writing!

Richard Alan

“Letters from Long Binh” and “Soft Target” Reviews

I have actually found a little time to do some reading in addition to blogging, twittering, Facebook, website, and let’s not forget writing.   I wish there were more hours in the day.  I wanted to share with you two books that I really enjoyed: Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam (Paperback) and Soft Target: A Thriller.  As always, your comments are welcome.

4* –  An MP’s View of Vietnam, February 28, 2012

This review is from: Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam (Paperback) by Randy Mixter
This is a great story of a soldier’s time in Vietnam from a non-combat point of view. The author,Randy Mixter was a member of the military police. He sent letters home to his girlfriend (now wife) which he turned into this cleverly crafted volume. It also includes some of his wife’s letters to him. I found his stories to be very interesting as they were coming from the Military Police perspective. I was an infantryman in Vietnam and experienced the action in a different way.
Adventures such as finding a naked soldier with a prostitute take on added interest when the naked soldier puts on his uniform and is found to be a colonel! This memoir is stocked with stories that run the gamut of heartwarming to funny to sad. This volume should be on the shelf of everyone who has an interest in the Vietnam War.

3* – Soft Target – Good, but not as Good as Most of Hunter’s Thrillers, February 28, 2012

This review is from: Soft Target: A Thriller (Hardcover), by Stephen Hunter

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter follows the story of a terrorist attack at the Mall of America, the largest mall in America. The attack occurs on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Mr. Hunter has written many exciting novels of this genre. Soft Target follows the pattern of his previous novels and engages the reader with carefully crafted characters and suspense filled events. One of the characters from his previous novel, Ray Cruz, is a key player in this one. Unfortunately, this novel is not as good as his previous books.

One of my disappointments in the novel was treating the shoppers in the mall as if they were sheep to be herded around by the terrorists. With all the ex-military people in our country, I would have used some of them to help end the terrorist threat. As a Vietnam vet and Concealed Carry License holder, I for one would have at least taken out a couple of them before they got me, and I know plenty of CCL Vets who keep their skills up and would have joined me as well.

Overall, I did enjoy Soft Target. Just don’t expect it to be as good as Hunter’s previous thrillers.

HAPPY READING!