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Welcome Award-Winning Author John R Schembra

Mystery/Thriller, Supernatural, Military

In Blood Debt, San Francisco Homicide Investigator and Vietnam veteran Vince Torelli strives to clean up the violence in San Francisco. But, after a suspect in a double murder is killed during an attempted arrest, he finds himself protecting the good police officers of the city he considers family. His efforts put him in the line of fire when he’s targeted. The brother of the suspect victim wants revenge on the officers responsible, and he’ll stop at nothing. He kidnaps Vince, a man obsessively loyal to his job as well as those he works with and defends, a man as smart and committed to his principles as the criminals he catches almost without fail. Vince knows best, though; a blood debt always demands payment.

How long have you wanted to write? When I was a young boy, my mother instilled in me a love of books and reading. I read mostly adventure stories, in particular, a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and  I admired how he could spin such wonderful stories. I vowed at a young age to write my own stories someday, as I knew the joy I got from books. I wanted to someday write books that would give that joy to others.

How long did it take you to reach your goal of publication? Many years! With growing up, school, college, the Army, becoming a police officer, marriage, and raising two children, there just wasn’t time for me to write, though I never lost the desire. The opportunity came when the kids were in college, and I had finished my master’s degree.  One afternoon, another sergeant and fellow Vietnam Veteran and I were swapping stories from our tours in the police department briefing room. Other officers heard us and stopped to listen. They told me later that day I should write my stories down, they would make a good book. That night, I began writing.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? Traditionally published. I researched small publishers, on the advice of a genuinely nice lady, and very prolific author I had met at a writer’s conference and was lucky enough to have one accept my manuscript. I have been with them, Writers Exchange, for 18 years, and all five of my books have been published by them. I have two new novels currently in their queue undergoing editing. I hope to have them published by mid-2021. By the way, that nice lady and I are fast friends and have been for 20 years.

Where do you write? A small 4th bedroom in my house was converted to an office/writing room. It gives me the privacy I need to concentrate, with no interruptions from family (other than the dogs). I have a TV in there. I tune to soft rock music, at low volume, as a background when writing. I find I am more proficient when writing with the background music. It helps me concentrate.

Where do you find your characters? How do you name them? All of them are drawn from real life, at least the main characters. I’ve patterned them after friends, family, and other people I know or have known. Obviously, I change the names, but I have had some readers recognize the character and ask me if the character is based on them, or on so-and-so. I usually tell them, “not entirely.” A couple of times, I have used their real names, with permission, of course, because the name suits the character. Those persons really get a kick out of being in the book!

I try to develop names that suit the characters. If a tough guy is needed, I’m not going to name him Chad, or Chip, or Timmy, etc. I chose Vince Torelli as the name for the protagonist in five of my books—a tough, dedicated, homicide inspector with San Francisco PD. An Italian name, to me, rings of toughness. Of course, the character’s personality has to echo the tough name. I also like to have the protagonist exhibit compassion at times, too. I try to avoid cliché names like “Reaper,” “Savage,” and the like.

Real settings or fictional towns? I use both. In M.P., a Novel of Vietnam, all the locations were real, and all the military units, from whichever side, were real and operated in the area at the time setting of the book. All the areas mentioned in the Torelli books, in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, are real, as are all towns, streets, highways, hotels, restaurants, etc. I even used the address of my childhood home in one of the books! I like to think it adds a sense of realism when the reader knows or has visited the areas where the scenes take place.

If you could have written any book already written, which one would it be? Any of the Tarzan books!  ERB is my absolute favorite author, and I have read almost everything he has written (80 books), a lot of them more than once. His writing is what got me hooked on reading and inspired me to become a writer. By the way, I have 73 of his books in my bookcase.

One other book is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. An absolutely amazing book, skillfully written. I felt I was on the boat with him. Some of the best descriptive writing I’ve read.

You’re stranded on a deserted island.. what must you have? All my ERB books, my reading glasses, and a Lazy-boy recliner

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? As I mentioned, I have written seven books—five published (in Kindle and paperback) and two at the publisher’s. I have posted the first chapters of all my published work on my webpage, including a couple of short stories (non-published). Please take a few minutes to visit the site, learn more about me, view some photos, and read the excerpts.  Between the five books and a short story, I have been fortunate to receive eight writing competition awards.

A big thank you to my friend, and award-winning author, George Cramer, for inviting me to post at his blog.

If any of you read a book of mine or the short stories, I would love to hear from you. Please post a review at Amazom.com, or send it directly to me so I can post it at other sites.

Thanks for taking the time to read about me and my writing. I appreciate it.

Best wishes, John

Website and links: www.jschembra.com   https://www.facebook.com/Books-by-John

Mr. Cramer, It’s that time again.

May 20th I spent the entire afternoon at the blood bank giving a platelet donation. Four weeks later they called, “we need AB+ at Children’s Hospital”.

Today I spent another three hours strapped down while my blood was drawn out of one arm and pumped back into the other. The worst part, my nose itched. You cannot move your hands or arms.

I know you remember all about platelet donation from my last blog on the subject, but here are a couple of reminders.

A single platelet donation can yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.

One platelet donation can be worth from 12 to 18 whole blood donations.”

Here is a link to the Red Cross – http://goo.gl/VQgV2

They have Netflix movies available. I wanted the longest movie possible. If you finish a movie in less than two hours, you lay there bored and itchy.

My choice was a double winner, Hemingway and Gellhorn is two and a half hours long. I had no down time. It is an incredible story about Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. They were married from 1940 to 1945 when Gellhorn left to cover the Allied Landings in Normandy. Lacking press credentials she impersonated a stretcher bearer. She was one of the first correspondents to reach and report from the Dachau Concentration Camp.

I found Gellhorn the more interesting. Some say she was the best of 20th Century War Correspondents. She traveled with Hemingway to cover the Spanish Civil War.

Having read almost everything Hemingway wrote, I’m now anxious to read the works of this heroic woman who made such an impression on his life.

Today was the first and only time that I’ve enjoyed donating. Thank you Martha Gellhorn.

Gellhorn

Liebster Award

I was more than a little surprised when I received a note that Lauren Sapala had nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Having not a clue, I sent Lauren a note for clarification. Receiving her response was heartening. Maybe I might get this blog thing right after all.

Visit Lauren at http://writecity.wordpress.com/

Thanks Lauren. I’m going to follow your example in explaining what this is all about. I think the technical term is plagiarism.

liebster-award

The aim of this award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. There are no set rules for the award, but the guidelines are as follows:

Copy and paste an image of the award onto your blog.

Write a post on your blog to thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.

Nominate some blogs for the award. There is no rule for the number of blogs you nominate, but the general recommendation is at least 5 blogs that are similarly up-and-coming with fewer than 200 followers.

Answer the questions from the person who nominated you in your post.

Ask at least 5 questions on your blog for those you nominated for the award to answer.

In addition to the questions and answers, list at least 5 random facts about yourself.

    My Answers to Lauren’s Questions

What movie did you see as a kid that had the most lasting influence on you and why?

Hondo – I’ve been lifetime fan of Louis L’Amour and the strong, honest, and usually humble heroes his work personifies. John Wayne’s portrayal of Hondo Lane was magnificent. For many years now, I’ve had a photograph of Hondo’s arrival, on foot, at the Lowe ranch tacked to the wall in my office.

Since you began blogging, what’s the most surprising or unexpected thing about the whole process for you?

How it’s been received. I didn’t expect to gain many followers, none really, but the number is growing. The most surprising thing is the friendliness of the comments.

Do you have anything you do on a daily or weekly basis that keeps you inspired?

If you mean inspired to write, yes I do. It may not be earthshaking but each week day I plug in three hours on my Outlook Calendar for writing. It keeps me focused on writing, editing, and reviewing my work.

What fictional character do you feel most closely resembles your real life personality?

As much as I would like to say Hondo Lane, I can’t. You might find that I most closely resemble Huckleberry Finn.

What’s the most helpful thing you’ve learned in the past year?

My children are adults and I’ve learned to accept that. It makes life easier.

What piece of criticism have you received that has helped you grow the most (in writing or in life)?

Writing – Cut out the adverbs and watch out for author intrusion.

Life – “Mr. Cramer you’re no better than anyone else so be humble.” Mrs. Bannister – 7th Grade Teacher – Conejo Elementary School, Thousand Oaks, California

If you could only take three books with you to a desert island, what would those three books be?

1. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
2. Anything by Bernard Cornwell
3. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

What advice do you have for someone who wants to achieve their dreams?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too old, too young, or that your dreams are beyond reach. Get off the couch and get started. Never forget the ancient phrase, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.” Remembering this has helped me through many a tough time.

    5 Random Facts about Myself

1. I never learned how to whistle.
2. One year I went surfing or body surfing in the Pacific Ocean everyday but Christmas
3. I learned how to scuba dive at sixty-two
4. I love long distance rides on my 2001 Ultra-Classic Harley-Davidson
5. I don’t know how to swim

    My Questions for the Nominees

1. Who is your favorite author and why?
2. What has been the most difficult obstacle to your writing?
3. Do you have a regimen that you follow with your writing?
4. What do you consider the most significant event in your life?
5. Who was your most influential teacher?
6. What has been the happiest event in your writing endeavors?
7. What advice do you have for someone starting a blog?
8. What advice would give on becoming a writer?

    The Nominees

My Write Place – http://www.jkroyce.com

Time To Write Now – http://timetowritenow.com/

1 Dragon Writer – http://1dragonwriter.wordpress.com

Violet’s Vibes – http://violetsvibes.wordpress.com/

Fuzzy Red Socks – http://fuzzyredsocks.wordpress.com/

Sheila Bali’s Blog – http://sheilabali.com/wordpress/

15 Things I’d Like To Ban From Contemporary Crime Fiction – Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist currently living in St. Kilda, Australia. Below is a posting from his blog I found interesting and want to share. For the complete article click on http://adrianmckinty.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to Sunday, May 12, 2013.

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15 Things I’d Like To Ban From Contemporary Crime Fiction

Crime fiction has gotten very dull lately hasn’t it? I should know because I get inundated with galleys and review copies and most of them are beyond tedious, without a spark of wit or a well turned phrase in any of them. And the cliches, Jesus the cliches. And the violence. Especially violence towards women and children…It’s almost impossible to read some of this stuff and it makes me wonder how and why these authors ended up writing it. Were they pressured by editors or a feeling that this is what the market demands? I wonder if they ever get embarrassed. I know I get ashamed when I find myself falling into cliche or hacky situations or when the dialogue sounds tinny and false. I’m guilty, I’ll admit it, but I can’t be the only one, can I?

1. Clever serial killers
2. Stupid serial killers
3. Child Murderers
4. Serial Rapists
5. Everything from Scandinavia
6. Torture Porn
7. Working class stereotypes
8. Architects
9. Gallery owners
10. Books with recipes
11. Detectives baffled by basic scientific facts/mathematics
12. Detectives who solve crimes with magic or fairy dust (Lizbeth Sallander, the BBC’s Sherlock etc.)
13. Detectives who solve crimes with cats
14. Cops who haven’t heard of Ernest Hemingway or other basic elements of contemporary culture (this is an extension of #7 above).
15. Super villains. I’ll explain this one. There’s an entirely fallacious belief out there that gets repeated all the time (I heard JJ Abrams repeating it on TV not ten minutes ago) that a hero is only as good as the villain is bad. The hero is supposedly ‘defined by the villain.’ This is utter nonsense. In a well made narrative you don’t even need a villain or a decent McGuffin you just need a good story and fascinating characters. JJ Abrams worships at the throne of Spielberg but he should remember that the shark in Jaws only appeared on screen for about two minutes and its Spielberg’s best movie. And sometimes the most interesting part of the journey is the voyage the hero takes inside his own head. Nach innen geht der Geheimnisvolle Weg, as Novalis said. “Inward goes the way full of mystery.” You know?

Of course with a good story, good dialogue and good characters you can break all the rules above and have yourself a terrific book. But still…you know what I’m talking about… and if you have your own ideas about things you’d like to ban or cliches you’d like to kill please don’t hesitate to let me know.