JAMES M. COPELAND
- Guest Author -
Welcome to the return to this blog of a great author from Alabama, USA. The questions he answers today will be those that few people have asked.
Welcome, James ...
My dear friend Clancy:
Your offer to come into your blog is an enticing one to say the least. The people I have been reading about are famous people, ones that have accomplished great things. Would that I may do some of them at some point in my life.
What caused you to start writing, James?
I’m not sure, I suppose it was the love of saying something. I was a salesman, then a sales manager for a company that had excellent products. They taught me to love the art of explaining the value, not the price and with that knowledge I excelled. I had always wanted to be able to tell people about…whatever. I followed my Grandfather in the fields walking on the fresh ground he was plowing with my bare feet. That’s a wonderful feeling. I told him about it, and he grinned, said that he had done that behind his own Grandfather and knew exactly how I felt. Getting to the writing, I guess it started much later. I remember sitting in a cafeteria not far from my office in Kansas City, MO eating and I saw a man puttering on the sidewalk and the gutters for smokes. His clothes were ragged but clean, his hair was askew under an old cap and he was walking in the tops of a pair of bottomless shoes. He picked up a couple reached for a match in his pocket and lit the smoke. He grinned a broad smile when he inhaled as if that was one of the most enjoyable thing in the world, his world. I had to write about it. I wrote that poetry on the napkin at my table and that’s where I got my start. Since then, I have retired from actual work where I get paid and I write every day.
What are some of the things you have done during your lifetime?
As you can tell I enjoyed my Grandfather, oh yes, all the rest of my family as well. My father was killed in the Second World War in the year 1945. I have recently discovered several poems that he wrote during the years of 1938 and 1941. I am including them in the back of one of my novels titled, ‘Avenging Cycles.’
I’m sure that my father’s desire to write was inherited. I have rhymes of typed, categorized by date pieces of poetry stashed away. Mainly because I am the only one who really knows what they mean. The book I am referring to is pictured below as the front cover of the book. It’s not published yet, but will be shortly. The poems I found of my fathers will be featured at the back of the book with a short story about him. The Avenging Cycles story itself is a recounting of my own venture into the military field of Helicopter Flying. In 1963 I applied for helicopter training at the Camp Walters Helicopter Training facility located in Texas and was accepted. I went through the OCS training to achieve a Warrant Officer’s degree and then on to the helicopter part. The Avenging Cycles story substitute David Stabin O’ster for me and he progresses to a CIA appointment by the President of the USA. There is a sequel to this story, but I haven’t written it yet.
Was this the only flying you have done?
No Clancy, I came back to my job at Gadsden, AL and a client of mine said he didn’t want to buy anything that he would rather have a student pilot to train in fixed wing flying. I closed my bag, stood up like I was leaving and he asked, “Did I make you mad?” No, I said, I’m ready to go to the airport and become one of your students. We went, he trained, I flew to the Bahamas for my cross country flight, got my commercial license to fly and a customer for life.
The last ten years of my working life I operated a restaurant equipment & heating and air installation company in Branson, MO. I married my dear sweet wife two years before the end of the ten years and sold the business. We moved back to Alabama which was home for both of us.
My writing started in earnest in 2006. My first published book was titled, ‘Bottom Bones’ with Detective Frank Hawthorn.
This book has been my best seller. When I go to signings or shows this one is the first to sell out.
Other books I have written and published are ‘Madlyn Witherspoon’ a thirteen year old girl that runs away from home because of incest, and becomes a boy in looks for a few years at a hardware store.
James, many more books have you had published?
Clancy I’m glad you asked, there are two more. The next one started in December, of 2006. It was one that went in a drawer for two years before it saw the light of another day.
The title is, ‘Blindsided,’ this book had several rewrites, and then some more from the copy editor, the script editor and finally the publisher before it became a book. The publisher liked the Avenging Cycles manuscript but said that war stories were not selling as well as mysteries so we went with the ‘Blindsided’ novel.
What is the hardest thing about traditional publishing?
JMC: I don’t think there is anything hard about traditional publishing; it’s the authoring that’s hard. Of course the publisher has to make a decision to publish and once that decision is made their hung if it doesn’t work. I’d say that getting someone in publishing to look at your work is probably the hardest thing.
What genre is this book written in?
JMC: It’s a mystery / crime / suspense book, or better said, a-who-done-it-book. And, in this case Detective Frank Hawthorn always gets his man!
When did you originally write this book James?
JMC: This novel was one of the first I wrote in 2006.
Has it been rewritten, or possibly re-titled?
JMC: Has it been rewritten, ha, ha. (Laugh) I have re-written it so many times I wore the words out. This was the first book I took to a Literary Conference. It got eaten alive by a literary agent. Not only that, but the name was changed several times. I think that the end results are one of my best works. (I do have to give my publisher (KG Books) editor credit for making the last corrections.)
What’s the book about?
JMC: Detective FRANK HAWTHORNE receives a call from W.J. FISHER. He said that his son Milford Fisher had disappeared. He found his boat near the Memphis, Tennessee branch of the Fisher Granary Corp covered in blood. Later that day the boat disappears as well.
Hawthorn is told that young Fisher discovered someone was stealing millions from the company and now he is missing. Everyone believes him dead except Hawthorn who has a premonition that maybe…he’s still alive.
Detective Hawthorne works his magic to solve the crime. After several incidents and mishaps, he discovers the truth and finds the guilty individuals. There is an important twist in the story and Frank Hawthorne uncovers a plot that will keep you on your toes. Frank wears his heart on his sleeve and is BLINDSIDED when he discovered the truth about the woman he loves while he searches for the truth. You'll never guess what happens in this riveting tale.
How should new readers of your work feel?
JMC: Like they want to turn the pages of my next book! (This could be the beginning of a series?)
How did you meet the publisher?
JMC: Through one of the social media units I belong too. (I was turned down by the publisher at once, until I restated my position.)
Writing is one thing. What about marketing you, your book, and your brand, any thoughts?
JMC: Clancy, if I had been left to my own demise, I don’t know what I would have done. My publisher, (KG Books of Alabama) has given me every conceivable amount of help I could ever imagine. I feel that with the assistance I have been given that there is no way my novel would be anything but a success. The path we are on (together) only leads to success!
(One of my ways of marketing is going to be the sale of my home, and hitting the road in our new 38 ft Cayman Motor Home. I have the sign already made to post on my bus when we arrive at a signing spot. I have cards already printed with the face of the book prominent and mailing-cards that I can send to prospective accounts that possibly might sponsor a signing. We have the accessories for having a signing at a location, ie, table, table cloths, chairs, pens, isles for showing books and several other things too numerous to mention.)
What are your feelings, concerning the efforts of your publisher?
JMC: I am overwhelmed. If I had planned to select a publisher, I couldn’t have made a better choice.
Will this episode in your life change it?
JMC: Yes it will. It’s a new adventure, and I can hardly wait. For Shaw, who’s waiting, I have been working night and day trying to keep up with what my publisher (KG Books) wants me to do.
What are your plans in the very near future?
JMC: We are working every day in preparation for hitting the road. I can hardly wait for the signing process to begin. I have agreed to be at any signing or interviews my publisher (KG Books) feels necessary.
Do you have any tips for wanna-be writers?
JMC: I think the strongest thing I could possibly say is that if you want to write, you have to devote yourself to doing just that. This is not a process like fishing. You can bait a hook and drop it in the water, after a while you will catch a fish. Not so, in writing. You have to research every nook and cranny of the writing and publishing world to see the opportunities available to you and then spend countless hours practicing, arranging the words and studying the results. In reading some of my earlier works I look with awe at how I did what I did. I know now that my earlier work was only for me! Why, because I was the only one who knew what I was talking about. I wrote endless poetry and turned it over to others and they would read it and go, huh! What did he say?
In order to write, you have to write, and write, and write!
My greatest frustration as an author from the get go has been the fact that each turn down comes in a nice package. No instructions as to how you flubbed, no statements as to quitting your day job, nothing! The reason I have cordoned myself into this 15 by 15 room and slaved over this *%#))*& computer for 8 to 10 hours a day was not to receive a turn down stating how nice I was.
Once I learned, the hard way, I might add, how. . .to write I have done quite well. I now know how to put words on paper that actually mean something. . .to others! Now that I can do that my next problem is why are computers designed to dump things right in the middle of when you are the hottest? Did you know that the second time or maybe the third time you write something it will be entirely different? When I was a kid my mommy would have a birthday party for me with my cousins. One of the games we played was ‘telling a tale.’ Mom would start by whispering something in the ear of the first person in line and it was that persons job to relate that tale to the next one. IT WAS NEVER THE SAME!
I have learned a great deal including how to use the computer as a word processor. That’s cool. I still don’t know how to spell. Thank goodness for ‘spell check.’
Anything you’d like to add?
The last thing I am going to talk about is the great guy who is sponsoring this very blog. Thanks Clancy, I couldn’t have made it without you.
Clancy's comment: Thanks, James. Always a pleasure. Good luck with your books. Hope you sell heaps. Oh, get in that motorhome and have a great time. I'm sure your travels will inspire many new books.