Canal Town Writers Conference Announced

The Canal Town Writers Conference sponsored by the Eastern Shore Writers Association will offer an opportunity for engaging with fellow writers and energizing your own writing in the beautiful setting of historic Chesapeake City, MD.

Set for Saturday, September 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the conference will offer three sessions in the meeting room at the Chesapeake City branch library: “First Lines: Getting Started with Your Creative Project,” a panel discussion called “Finding Time to Write,” and “Writing 5/7/5.” The sessions are intended to be of interest to writers in all genres and experience levels. There will be an opportunity to enjoy lunchtime fellowship and networking, followed by a cruise on the C&D Canal with a brief overview of Canal Town history.

The conference itself is free. Attendees will be paying for their own lunch in a group setting. Cost for the canal cruise with Chesapeake City Water Tours and Captain DJ is $15 at the dock.

“Chesapeake City has a rich literary heritage with ties to Jack D. Hunter, Edna Ferber, and George Alfred Townsend,” said David Healey, a local author and Eastern Shore Writers Association board member who is helping to organize the event. “The Canal Town Writers Conference builds on this heritage by gathering writers from across the region to improve their craft, enjoy fellowship with other writers, and to explore historic Chesapeake City.”

Space is limited. Please email cheswriters@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

 

CANAL TOWN WRITERS CONFERENCE 

Sponsored by the Eastern Shore Writers Association

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Chesapeake City Branch Library community room

2527 Augustine Herman Highway

 Note library doors open at 10 am

10-10:15 am Arrival and fellowship

10:15-11:15 am First session (First Lines/Getting Started with Your Creative Project)

11:15-11:30 am Break

11:30 am-12:30 pm Second session-Panel  (Finding Time to Write)

12:30 pm-1:45 pm  Networking lunch (Maria’s and JoJo’s diner within walking distance)

1:45 pm-2:30 pm  Third session (Writing 5/7/5)

3 pm Boat tour with Captain DJ on C&D Canal

Chesapeake City offers several places to dine or enjoy more fellowship afterwards.

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An interview with Sunshine State noir author Jeffery Hess

By David Healey

Florida and crime fiction go together like windshields and bugs on a summer night while speeding down Alligator Alley. A good plot is like that oddly satisfying smack against the glass, leaving an imprint on the mind.

One such book that hits with a satisfying smack is TUSHHOG by Florida native Jeffery Hess, who continues the adventures of his protagonist, Scotland Ross. Ross is a veteran who finds himself caught up in the underbelly of the Fort Myers area, and tries to do the right thing, even if there are a few bodies along the way.

So what exactly is a Tushhog? To set the record straight, the term is defined in a note at the start of the novel. Rather than give that away here, the definition is best left up to Hess.

Recently, Hess took some time out from his favorite writing spot on the screen porch of his Tampa home to talk about his own brand of Sunshine State noir.

Hess is a Florida native and has set his novels in the early 1980s, a period that was just starting to see meteoric development. At that time, Hess was a teenager.

“Back in the ’80s it was kind of the Wild West,” he says. “Florida was half the size in terms of population. The growth has been nonstop.”

Back then, the popular TV show Miami Vice glamorized the East Coast lifestyle of fast cars, Ray Bans, and pastel-colored clothing—often paid for with drug money. Hess recalls that the West Coast—of Florida—wasn’t like that, but had its own vibe, which is why he chose to set his novels in that time and place.

The novels are set about 37 years ago. But is it historical fiction? Hess isn’t sure.

“Technically, it might be too soon to call it that,” he says. “There’s near history and there’s far history.”

His fiction falls into the former category.

Whether or not this is historical fiction, what we do know is that these are stories without computers, smartphones, or the internet. It was a time of fewer distractions.

“It facilitated more mystery,” Hess says. “Everything is less immediate.”

Surprisingly, there is an element of historical research in that the landscape has changed so much in more than three decades. Roads have been built, developments have sprung up, and landmark businesses have come and gone since the 1980s.

Back then, Hess was interested in getting out of Florida and seeing something of the world. He did that by joining the navy out of high school, and serving for six years. Of course, when he mentioned to navy buddies that he was from Florida, they pictured Miami Vice.

His navy days over, Hess went on to college and eventually earned an MFA in Creative Writing. Eleven years ago, he began a writers’ workshop for military veterans dubbed DD214 (after the form for an honorable discharge).

“I kind of took the opportunity to give back,” he says. The group is limited to six participants, and has resulted in some great writing and connections between veterans.

Previously, Hess edited an anthology of military fiction from well-known authors called Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform.

“It was an opportunity to select stories that I always liked,” he says.

He then edited an anthology called Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand that focused on writing by more recent veterans.

Hess is currently at work on the third book in this trilogy that focuses on the growth of his main character.

“It’s not only what Scotland Ross does, but what he doesn’t do,” he says.

In terms of how he approaches story development, Hess does a little of both in terms of outlining and organic writing.

“I just start to collect notes,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll have hundreds of pages. I try to make some sense out of that. It works for me. I’m sure it’s not terribly efficient.”

He also tends to work backwards in a story and likes to make discoveries about his characters and the plot along the way.

“I live for the surprises,” he says, adding that one of the main reasons why any writer writes is to entertain himself.

Mostly, he writes on his laptop, but sometimes composes with pen and paper. “I like that tactile experience. It makes me slow down,” he says. In a sense, pen and paper is also the ultimate technology: “It’s much more portable that way.”

Year-round, his preferred writing spot is the spacious screened porch on the back of his house. He says that because of the settings of his stories, he likes to have that connection with the flora and fauna just beyond.

After all, what better place to write about Florida than in a Florida room?

Hess tends to write for a couple of hours in the morning, and then a couple more hours in the evening as the day fades. He has a long view over some natural areas to enjoy—Florida the way it used to be.

The sun goes down, insects buzz, and the night sounds begin, mixed with the tapping of keys on his laptop…

*****

Jeffery Hess is the author of the novel Beachhead and the short-story collection Cold War Canoe Club as well as the editor of the award-winning Home of the Brave anthologies. He lives in Florida, where he leads the DD-214 Writers’ Workshop for military veterans.

To learn more about Jeffery, please visit his website.

 

 

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WWII stories inspired Iron Sniper author

By Kris Kielich

kkielich@chespub.com

Though we look to fantasy to provide us with enthralling tales of heroism, most times, history provides us all the stories of action and heroes that we need. Such is the case with Chesapeake City author David Healey and his “Sniper” series, and his newest book, “Iron Sniper.”

The books tell the tale of Caje Cole, a U.S. Army sniper who finds himself in battles across the European Theatre of World War II. In “Iron Sniper,” Cole finds himself head to head with a German Army sniper seeking honor for his dead brother.

“The book has Cole in it, but it also focuses on Dieter Rohde, whose brother is killed by the SS for desertion,” Healey said. “So he want’s to earn the Iron Cross to redeem his brother, and along the way he loses sight of his humanity.”

Healey explained how his inspiration for writing the book series came from his time with Cecil County’s own WWII history, as well as his own family’s history.

“Cecil County has a strong tradition with WWII veterans, and we had a lot of veterans at D-Day,” Healey explained. “Back in the ’90s I was able to interview a lot of these guys right around the time when ‘Saving Private Ryan’ came out, and I got to see it with them. These guys went ashore. They lived what’s depicted in that film.”

For the complete story, please visit Cecildaily.com

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Listen to Chapter 1 of Red Sniper

The audiobook of Red Sniper narrated by Ray Bader is now available! Please click on the audiobook cover below to listen to the first chapter.

A limited number of free ebooks are available. If you would like a free copy, please submit the form below and you will be sent a code for a free ebook … while supplies last!

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The best movies are in your head

Whenever I need a bit of inspiration, or when I just feel like some serious procrastination, I tend to go on over to YouTube and watch a few movie trailers. Stirring music, exciting images … sometimes the trailers are better than the movies! 

Book trailers have never become as popular, probably because novels are not really a visual media (other than the cover and the actual act of reading the words on the page). Much of the enjoyment of a book comes from the movie in your head. 

The team here was able to put together a trailer for IRON SNIPER, the newest WWII novel featuring Caje Cole. 

In terms of books made into actual movies … we all know that the book is almost always better than the movie!

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An Engineered Injustice by William L. Myers Jr.

By David Healey

Imagine riding Amtrak’s fastest train, the Acela. Inside, the seats are comfortable and the coaches are well appointed. This is no tired train hauling commuters up and down the East Coast corridor. Your fellow passengers are interesting and you strike up a captivating conversation with the lawyer beside you. Beyond the windows, the landscape—like time itself—passes in a blur because you are so caught up in the train, the trip, the conversation.

AN ENGINEERED INJUSTICE by William L. Myers Jr. is about as close as one can get to such an exciting train ride, short of purchasing a pricey Acela ticket. Considering that this new legal thriller is fast-paced, tightly written, and inspired by a real-life railroad disaster, it’s probably no surprise that Myers’ previous novel, A Criminal Defense, remained in the top 10 list for Amazon’s Kindle sales for much of 2017 and into 2018. Currently, the novel has more than 5,000 reader reviews on Amazon.

His new book is just as much of a thrill ride. Young lawyer Vaughn Coburn finds himself obligated to represent his cousin, Eddy, in the wake of an Amtrak train wreck in which many die and many more are injured. Vaughn has a dark family secret that compels him to help Eddy, even when the job is going to make him very unpopular. A steamy relationship with a lawyer from a rival firm adds further complications.

There’s a lot going on here, and for good reason. Myers called AN ENGINEERED INJUSTICE a plot-driven novel, following the up-and-down fortunes of a trial. There is also what he described as a “sense of peril” because one of the victims of the train crash was the son of a vicious mobster. One of Vaughn’s challenges is to persuade the mobster not to seek his own rough justice until all of the facts are known.

Recently, the author shared some insights into his new book, writing in general, and how he became one of Amazon’s top bestselling authors seemingly overnight with his first novel.

In terms of backstory, Myers has spent much of his career representing railroad industry employees from Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak. “I know those guys; I know this equipment,” he said. “I ride trains maybe once a month.”

However, this new novel isn’t a book about trains so much as a book about a trial. The story is loosely based on the 2015 Amtrak disaster in Philadelphia, in which eight people died and 200 were injured. The real-life engineer of that train later faced criminal charges, which were dismissed.

His first novel, A Criminal Defense, is also set in Philadelphia courtrooms. Myers is a civil attorney, but decided that a criminal defense story would be more exciting.

“I was excited by the fact that for 2017 [A Criminal Defense] was in the top 10 on Kindle. It was a surprise to me,” he said. “It made me happy, needless to say.”

Despite the success of his first published novel, Myers stressed that he was definitely not an overnight success as a writer. He has been working on his craft for at least 20 years, during which he wrote two or three “terrible” novels.

“They were so bad, even I could tell they were bad,” he said.

Although Myers had been writing for a while, he decided to set himself a new challenge as a writer.

“About five years ago, I decided to write a commercially viable book,” he said.

The result was A Criminal Defense. Once the manuscript was finished, however, his path to commercial publishing got off to a slow start—more like a coal train out of Altoona than the Acela out of Philadelphia. He sent query letters directly to publishers, and never heard back.

Finally, he ran into lawyer-turned-novelist Anderson Harp at a legal conference, and asked for some advice. Harp said, “You’ve got to get an agent!”

Logically, Myers’ next question was, “How do I get an agent?”

The response: “You can’t get an agent!”

Despite this apparent catch-22 situation, Harp did give Myers the name of a professional book editor, who helped shape the story. Through connections with the editor, Myers was able to find an agent, and eventually to land a publishing contract with Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon imprint.

The moral of that story is probably to put in the time and effort needed to write a really good book, even if it takes 20 years. There really isn’t any overnight success.

“For most people to get a book published, it’s a long road, it’s a long haul,” Myers said. “If it’s something that you love to do, do it. The real fun of it comes in the writing.”

One of his favorite craft books became Story by Robert McKee. Although this is primarily a craft book for screenwriting, Myers said that he found McKee’s instructions very useful for writing chapters.

When it comes to developing his own story, Myers tends to combine planning with a more organic approach. He said that he knows the key scenes and plot points before he starts writing, but there are still discoveries to be made. “It’s not until I put two characters together that I know how they’ll turn out.”

His law background has helped to inform his writing, he said. “As a trial lawyer, one of the first things you learn is that you can’t just shoot facts at a jury. You have to weave the information into a story.”

Somehow, Myers has managed to juggle writing with his busy legal practice.  “I’ll write for an hour, then I’ll get back to my legal work,” he said.

He also writes wherever he can, whether it’s on a train, a plane, or in a car. In fact, he often thinks up ideas in the car. (He doesn’t write them down while behind the wheel, he noted.) “Basically, I squeeze in some writing whenever I can do it.”

Some of his best thinking takes place during his daily two-mile walk at the Valley Forge National Historical Park with his dogs. Among the rolling Pennsylvania hills, his thoughts wander to scenes and characters. He has been known to stop during his walk and take notes on his phone when a great idea or plot point comes to mind, and then emails it to himself.

Like many writers, Myers never really stops writing, even when he isn’t actively in front of the keyboard. “If you’re really into writing a story and you step away from it, your brain is still writing it and coming up with ideas,” he said. “I can’t wait to get home to write them down.”

And judging by the success of his novels, readers can’t wait to turn those pages.

*****

William L. Myers, Jr. is a top 10 best-selling Amazon Kindle author for his debut novel which came out in 2017. He might be new to the literary community, but once you pick up his legal thriller and best selling novel, A Criminal Defense, it becomes obvious he is not new to the intricacies of the legal profession. Open A Criminal Defense and you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of deceits and hidden agendas, a world where everyone has a secret. You never know what is going to happen next or when the plot is going to take another unexpected turn.

Don’t miss his second book, AN ENGINEERED INJUSTICE, which came out January 23rd. You’ll really feel what it’s like to be a young attorney in the trenches, beating the streets, against all odds.

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

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Join Me for Library After Hours this Friday!

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WAS RESCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, MARCH 9! Hello friends, the Cecil County Public Library in Maryland asked me to host its first After Hours at the Library event, to celebrate the Winter Reading program. They also sent me a few interview questions, which appeared in the local paper. You can’t read the website article if you’re not a subscriber, but I wanted to make the Q&A available here in hopes that it may spark some interest in attending the After Hours event!

 Author David Healey to Host After Hours Event

by Allie Charles

Why do you read?

C.S. Lewis said it best, “We read to know we are not alone.”

 

What’s your preferred reading format–audiobook, print, digital?

I love my Kindle. I have around 300 books on my Kindle right now. I can carry all those books in my back pocket.

I tend to jump between different books so I have whatever I want right on the device. I can also switch back and forth between my Kindle and my iPhone, and it syncs to whatever page I’m on.

There are a lot of classics available as ebooks for free or at very minimal cost. These can be a pleasant surprise. Grant’s Memoirs was one such discovery, and so was Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau. Grant was a fine writer and his account of the Mexican War campaign was intriguing. Thoreau is revered as this serious writer, thinking deep thoughts off in his cabin at Walden Pond, but the Cape Cod book is more of a travelogue. Thoreau is snarky and funny in a way that reminds me of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Another free ebook, if you have an interest in local history, is George Alfred Townsend’s Chesapeake Tales.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am lucky because I work at home and have more control over how my day is structured. Something that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing is reading nonfiction when I get up in the morning. It primes the pump. I keep Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art within reach, along with Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss, Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles, Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, and the Robert Hass anthology, Poet’s Choice. Then, it’s time to work!

During lunch I read fiction. Currently I’m on Valley Forge by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, re-reading The Blue Max by our own Jack D. Hunter, Wicked Deeds (set in Baltimore and featuring lots of Poe history) by Heather Graham, one of the Pendergast books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and Written Off by Sheila Lowe. Her book is the newest of a suspense series featuring a handwriting expert. It was really good, and Sheila, who is actually one of the world’s leading handwriting experts, ended up analyzing some of my handwriting for me, which was rather revealing. I recently finished up An Engineered Justice for an interview I did with William L. Myers Jr., who is one of the top 10 bestselling authors on Amazon.com. Set in Philadelphia around an Amtrak crash, it’s quite a legal thriller.

 

What’s an upcoming release you can’t wait to read?

Anything by John Sandford or Lincoln Child or Paul Doiron. Locally, I am looking forward to a new naval history of Delaware Bay by Ken Wiggins. Ken is on the library board and is also quite an accomplished writer and historian.

 

Why should people come to the Library After Hours event?

I think most of us have been to events in New York and other cities that are similar, where a museum or historic property will open its doors on a Friday evening after hours. Sure, you could visit during regular hours, but this is a cultural version of adult swim. Our county library is one of the first in Maryland to offer something like this, so that’s rather special.

Reading is a solitary activity, but talking about books and getting excited about what we want to read next can be more social. There will be snacks, conversation, a chance to roam the stacks after hours, and prizes. Did I mention that it’s free?

 

 

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Man of Honor by Chris Malburg

By David Healey

Chris Malburg is a writer who wants to get things right.

Sure, it’s not unusual for a good thriller writer to head to the local library, spend some time with Professor Google, or visit a locale that he’s thinking of using as a setting. But how many would enroll in classes at the University of Southern California to learn the finer points of air disaster investigation?

Malburg would—and did—learning alongside experts from a host of “alphabet” government agencies such as the FAA and FBI. The final exam, by the way, involved heading out to a hangar to determine why three different planes went down.

That hard work has paid off in Malburg’s fourth Enforcement Division novel, MAN OF HONOR. American planes are crashing thanks to Chinese cyber terrorism, and it’s up to NTSB investigators to help stop them. The result of Malburg’s research is a novel that rings true in every detail.

Read the full interview at The Big Thrill.

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Baltimore Sun Op-Ed on new Chesapeake Bay span

Bay bridge image courtesy of the Baltimore Sun.

From a writer’s perspective, what makes the Eastern Shore and Delmarva unique is that it’s out of the way. A proposed new Chesapeake Bay crossing could truly impact our sense of place. Here is the Baltimore Sun op-ed I wrote about that … in print on Sunday, Feb. 11.

 

Third Chesapeake Bay bridge would have lasting impact

By David Healey

To get a glimpse of how the Eastern Shore used to be before the Chesapeake Bay bridge, all you had to do was ask George Prettyman and Sterling Hersch. Both of these old timers grew up in the early 1900s in Rock Hall, where Sterling’s family owned the general store and George’s father was the Methodist minister.  George, who wrote newspaper columns in the “I remember” style, recalled how back-to-school shopping meant a ferry trip to Baltimore — always an exciting outing for a kid from Rock Hall. Both Sterling and George are gone now, but this era before the bridge lives on in memory and legacy.

When the original two-lane Chesapeake Bay bridge opened in 1952, it meant an end to the Eastern Shore’s isolation, literally paving the way for development. But while the bridge was a boon for Ocean City, enabling tourists to “reach the beach,” it actually brought about the economic decline of places that had a business model built around the ferry.

The towns of Tolchester and Betterton, both near Rock Hall, once hosted hordes of day trippers from Baltimore, with the former offering an amusement park and the latter a selection of places to stay. Even in Cecil County, places like Hollywood Beach and Crystal Beach attracted crowds of beach-goers to the shores of the Chesapeake at a time when the Atlantic beaches were a much more difficult drive. But the bridge changed all that, and certainly there were no more shopping trips to Baltimore on the ferry.

In 1973, a parallel three-lane span was opened to relieve traffic congestion, and now, the state government of Maryland is in the early stages of planning for a third bridge crossing. Those changes that rocked the shore could happen all over again. …

To read the entire essay, please visit:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-0211-chesapeake-bridge-20180208-story.html

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Winter Reading begins at the library!

I have signed up and will be tracking my reading in February. There’s a whole stack of books and in my Kindle, waiting for me: James Rollins, Linwood Barclay, Preston & Child, Sheila Lowe, William Myers, John Sandford. Can you keep up?

Winter Reading

Introducing CCPL’s Winter Reading for adults!

Read for 10 hours within the month of February and receive a limited edition tote bag, while supplies last, and an entry to win Milburn Stone Theatre tickets (2 tickets per branch).

Simply visit your local branch and pick up a log, or print a copy at home!

You can also track your time online through Beanstack starting February 1st.

Beanstack

Looking for great reading ideas? Take a look at our book lists, curated by staff.

Join our CCPL Reader’s Group on Facebook to interact with other Winter Reading participants.

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