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!
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.
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?
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.
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. …
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?
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).
Winter. Outside my office window, rafts of ice cover the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. The crew of a dredge crew climbs aboard a tug, headed to work on the icy water. In the distance, hunters are setting up decoys around their blind for goose season.
It’s also a good season for writing. The project that’s on my mind is the upcoming Eastern Shore Writers anthology, tentatively named, Bay to Ocean. I am working on a short story to submit. I don’t write much short fiction, so I turned to some of my favorites for inspiration. At the top of the list were “They” by David Morrell and “The Ledge” by Lawrence Sargent Hall.
Hall’s hunting story is more famous; you can find it in more than a few anthologies for high school and college classes where fiction is still taught. Written 60 years ago, the story has a timeless quality, perhaps because it’s so easy to imagine ourselves in the hunters’ boots as the tide comes in.
“They” is more of a twisted take on Little House on the Prairie. Written by David Morrell, best known as the creator of Rambo, this is one of those stories that I turn to again and again when I need a refresher in voice and pacing and tension. In getting to the climax of a short story, there’s no time for the long slope of rising action; there’s an escalator. As writers, our best teachers are these great authors. Writing this story for the anthology has been a good excuse to dip deep into my Kindle and bookshelf.
CURIOSITY OF THE DAY: Favorite pens for writing.
Another reason that I’m excited about the anthology is because I remember well the Shore Sampler that ESWA published many years ago. I was a student then at Washington College in Chestertown, and one of my classmates, Dean Hebert, had a poem in the anthology. Another writer, Douglass Wallop, had a piece in the Shore Sampler anthology. This interested me because as a student I had been granted use of the Douglass Wallop room at the O’Neill Literary House at the college.
Due to fire codes, students were no longer allowed to live in the Lit House, but it was a fine place to write and study and hang out. On the desk was the typewriter on which Wallop had written The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. I had actually read the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version as a bored kid one summer afternoon, in the days before smart phones and the internet. That story became the basis for the hit Broadway musical, Damn Yankees.
The upcoming anthology is picking up where a great tradition left off, and it’s long overdue. What will you submit? If you don’t have a story, essay, or poem ready, there is still time.
Pour a cup of coffee. Read. Gaze out at the ice. Write.
(This piece appeared in Running Times magazine. These days I really prefer walking, but this is a good time of year to think about getting outside and exercising, no matter what form it takes.)
by David Healey
Because I’m a writer and a runner, I’ve often noticed that setting pen to paper is a lot like setting foot to pavement. Both take will power and the ability to go the distance. Writers and runners enjoy a challenge, something to test their limits, like finding a good metaphor or tackling a five-mile run.
Considering that writers turn to the same inner place as runners, it’s surprising that there are no great novels about running. Whole shelves are filled with novels about baseball and fishing and even football. There aren’t any writers who are famous for their running. Maybe running isn’t glamorous enough. Or maybe it’s not possible to fully capture the intangibles of running?
That’s too bad, because running can open up the senses as much as the pores, especially during those runs away from the blacktop. In my head, I try to compose descriptions of leaves crackling under my running shoes or the squish-squelch of wet grass. On my laptop computer, however, the words get all tied up in double knots.
For those who have felt it, a good run builds like a good story. Those first strides as I find my rhythm are like the opening lines of a novel: It is a crisp autumn evening when I set out on my run, heading for the trails along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. (PROLOGUE.)
Cold wind rubs like sandpaper across my puffing cheeks. (RISING ACTION)
I come to a hill, pumping my arms and leaning into the grade. Halfway up, a cramp gnaws at my side. (CONFLICT)
Then I coast down the hill, the cramp gone, the cool air smelling of leaves and so rich my lungs can’t get enough. (THE DENOUEMENT)
Back at the edge of town, the wild land gives way to yards and gardens. I sprint the final few hundred feet to the house, energized by that fall air. The water is blue as a vein and the sky is turning cobalt as I coast to a stop. (EPILOGUE)
That final sprint felt great. After all, most runners, like most writers, enjoy a good ending.