Meet Guest Host (and Contest Judge) Reid Lance Rosenthal

Tomorrow the “Best First” Contest opens for entries! I’ve rounded up great prizes which include books, a gift package especially designed for writers, and best of all, a critique!

Today I’m thrilled to introduce award-winning author Reid Lance Rosenthal, who has generously agreed to judge tomorrow’s contest.

*This bio taken directly from his bio page of the book, Threads West *

Reid is fourth generation land and cattle. His cowboy heart and poet’s pen captures the spirit of the western landscape and its influence on generations of its settlers. His long-standing devotion to wild and remote places and to the people—both past and present—who leave their legend and footprint upon America and the American West is the inspiration and descriptive underpinning of all of his writing.

And now, a little bit more information about his award-winning series of books (again, this description was taken from his bio page).

Passion fuels each thrilling romance-packed novel in this widely-acclaimed series and epic of the historical and contemporary American west. Reid’s debut novel and the first book of the six-part saga has been compared to McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” by reviewers and readers alike. Each ensuing book further unfolds the riveting, sensual, adventure-filled tale of a country on the cusp of greatness, personalities from uncommon origins and lives weaved into generational tapestries of lust, duplicity, enmity, love, and triumph.

I’ve had the great pleasure of reading book one of his series, Threads West, and am nearly halfway through book two, Maps of Fate. His writing is rich with detail, history, and above all, he does a masterful job of portraying the underlying urge of his of his characters to not only survive, but to succeed, in the great American west.

Here’s the cover of his debut novel, Threads West, the first in the Threads West, An American Saga series.

Here’s the book trailer for Threads West   

And here’s the cover of the next book in the Threads West, An American Saga series, Maps of Fate.

Here’s the book trailer for Maps of Fate

Now, without further ado, here’s Reid! *********************************************************************  

Great to be on here with you and your readers, Christi! Thanks for the invite!

 1.      What led you to pursue writing as a career? And, what steps do you take to research such a sweeping historical saga? 

I am writing the Threads West An American Saga series not only because I want to keep a promise a nine-year-old made to himself many years ago, but because this series is “our” story. It is the ongoing story of “us”. I hope that it provides a reminder of the magical history of America and–through the historical facts that I detail through the eyes of fictional characters–a touchstone that we can reach back to in these troubled times, and perhaps use as a guidepost in future decisions. 

I am concerned about the future of America. The disintegration of the values of the old West and of our revolutionary forefathers distresses me. These seem to be traits that are slipping away, replaced by entitlement mentality, dependency on the red herrings of government rather than the tried-and-true traits of self-reliance, individualism, family and community. 

The Threads West series begins in 1855. It is the tale of disparate threads of lives, from many locations around the globe, of different social origins, ethnicity, culture and creed, that weave together as friends, enemies and lovers into the tapestry of an emerging nation: a country on the cusp of greatness, offering opportunity and freedom. The story arcs over one hundred seventy years and five generations. 

The last book of the series will be set in the real-time of the contemporary West. The final book will portray America and the West in vivid current reality – couched in romance and adventure. Threads West, An American Saga is, in essence, a fictional anthology of true life history. If the series evokes folks’ emotions, inspires passions, and delights readers with its story arc, that’s great! But, if it by chance re-acquaints readers with the basic principles that are the foundation of this fantastic experiment called the United States of America, then I truly will be well satisfied.

My pen is also driven by my love of land, a genealogy that goes back almost two-hundred years in land and cattle—including a goodly portion of that time by my ancestors in Europe. Perhaps I am inspired by the cowboy hat, the special feel and touch of a woman you care for, or the smell of horse leather and sweat. I love America and the West. I am enamored with romance, history, fiction, and all things western. They epitomize universal energies. So it makes sense that I love Historical Western Romance as a genre: the power of the land, the all-encompassing flow of steamy passion, heartfelt romance, and the intrigue of differing personalities, all laced with the American spirit.

I had important help from several researchers on details of dress, circumstances and some great historical tidbits and gave them credit in Book One, Threads West. But I wanted to learn what was entailed. Though I thought I was familiar with this magical moment in American history, I was mistaken. 1855 may be one of the single most difficult years of which straighten history of this country and the West that I’ve experienced. The great westward migration was in its infancy. The later turmoil between the northern and southern states–part of the Maps of Fate era novels of the series (Books 2, 3, and 4)–has begun to darken the whispered rhetoric of both sides. Native Americans had rightfully lost trust in the promises of the white man, the broken treaties of the years prior, and indeed the breach of compact between the states just within the previous 12 to 24 months were stirring the winds of war. 1855 was just several prior to the discovery of gold in Colorado, the real precipitator of the tidal wave of westward migration that began 1858. 

The Singer sewing machine had just been invented, revolvers were only a few years old, and the repeating rifle was still just a few years out. It was this point in time that the world – and America– breathed in, held their collective breath, and readied to exhale with a rush toward the Great Plains and the Rockies.

It was a time of both promise and fear, and the beginnings of the second great European immigration, a critical timeframe just prior to the switch of reels in the living movie of American history, reel one, the East. Reel two, the West.

My research sources are many and varied. They include print, web, nonfiction and memoir historical works of the specific time, interviews, and many times travel to specific geographic locations which my wandering feet have for some reason not yet visited. History can be general or detailed. I have found that in the nuggets of details oftentimes lies the best of the story. I’m extremely proud of the eight national awards the series earned in the last year, including four in Romance, one in Western, and – perhaps the one I’m most proud of – a Best in Historical Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Association. It was a surprising pat on the back for the hours upon countless hours invested in research.

Combine these forces of land and love (or lust), mix in detailed historical fact, the West, the American spirit, and the interplay of strong, conflicted male and female impassioned personalities, and we have historical western romances!  It is not an oft written genre, and I am the only rancher/cowboy writing heated tales of the multi-cultural West.

2.      You’ve written several books. Can you tell us, does it get easier or do you still have the same anxieties with the latest book that you had with the first? What are you working on now? 

When I began writing Book Two I was startled to realize that Book One, the foundation for the hundred and seventy your story arc encompassed only four months. Actually, startled is not the right word. Shocked is more apt. And I found, to my amazement, in writing Maps of Fate, the second book, that the first hundred and eighty pages literally only covered only three weeks of my originally intended twenty year segment in the overall storyline of the saga. Indeed I ended Book Two earlier than my original outline. My terrific publishers and distributors urged me to expand the series to at least sixteen novels. Being a masochist—I agreed! There is no anxiety—other than deadlines. There is, however, an awareness that each book sets the bar ever higher for the next. 

You could say the genres of romance, historical fiction, and Western chose me, and I chose them. A mutual love affair, no pun intended. I am intrigued by universal energies. The power of the land, the all-encompassing flow and energy of steamy passion and heart-felt romance, and the unique spirit of America, her people, her concept, and their evolution through the relatively short-term of American History. 

3.      Are you a Plotter or Pantster? 

I don’t write detailed outlines. I am convinced, after many discussions, that book organization is unique to every author. My “outline” is one page and consists only of the chapter titles. I merely hunker down on the stage of the setting, and listen to the characters as they tell me their stories. I am the simple scribe. 

4.      What advice do you have for writers trying to break into the business? 

I am laughing. Write! 

Pick an area in your house that is “the writing sanctuary.” My preferred writing atmosphere is pacing around the kitchen and living room of the old ranch house, digital recorder in one hand, coffee in the other. A close second is the cozy interior cab of a one ton Ford as it screams down the highway from ranch to ranch, many of those trip durations of 8 to 10 hours. I would estimate that at least half of Threads West was dictated driving at 90 mph — and if any state trooper is reading this, I meant 75!  Many times I’ve missed the next exit or turn, so engrossed have I become in the story the characters are telling me. On a few occasions my startled glance in the review mirror has revealed the winking lights of a patrol car. Generally the officer has asked me why I didn’t pull over for the last thirty miles. The looks I get when I explain I am writing a book are priceless. 

Third—devote time to your writing. Easy to say—hard to do! I am both a night owl and an early bird—that helps! Sleep is nothing more than a necessary evil. I would prefer to be catching winks three days at a time followed by six weeks without any rest. The majority of my writing is usually done from about 10 o’clock at night to 3 o’clock in the morning. Secondary productive timeframe would be six or so in the morning to perhaps ten a.m. Then the reality of daily life, business and the ranches takes over. Once in a while I’ve stepped through that time portal I described, and I’m reluctant to remove myself. On those occasions I can go three or four days without any sleep whatsoever. 

Last, use technology! All my writing is done via dictation. I am chuckling. Truth be known, I dictate because I can’t type. Actually I can type about 80 words per minute. Unfortunately, that includes 20 typos (at least) per line. I am also not a big fan of spell check. It is the big paw, little keyboard syndrome. Also, I spend so much time traveling between ranches, or in locations without power that recording thoughts for later use became a necessity in my teens. The prehistoric full-size cassette recorders of the 70s were quite something. Good ones were the size of small briefcase.  Then along came the micro-cassette recorders.  If I was in heaven then, the current digital technology is pure nirvana. 

5.      Was it easy for you to find a publisher? 

Ah, the world of Publishers! From what these relatively new author eyes see, it is in a state of flux—rapid change—unparalleled opportunity. 

I was approached early on by two large publishers all via contacts at conferences. I was gratified to get the interest, but not thrilled with the deal structure. 

The end result, as the books have gained momentum, is a joint-venture affiliation between one small, one medium and one huge publisher/distributor out of Wyoming, Texas and New York City, respectively. Each does what they do best—print, e-book, graphics, editing, “reach and penetration.” Texas handles the award-winning covers, interior layout, and epub loading. All in all a better deal for the direct author team. I believe hybrid deals of this nature involving several publishers with different “muscle” might well be the future. Time tells all tales! 

6.      Twitter, Facebook, Blogging—valuable networking tools or an unbelievable time suck? 

All play a role. All take time. It is the cumulative effect. Facebook is probably best and least time-consuming if you are without help. 

7.      What are your thoughts on the recent rise in authors, both established and new, going the self-publishing route? 

More power to them! It’s that American entrepreneurial spirit! A great thing that will, of course, have significant effect on both the author and publisher sides of the industry. 

8.       Tell us about the series. 

The Threads West series begins in 1855. It is the tale of strong men and independent women—complex, conflicted personalities from Europe and America—the threads of their disparate lives destined to converge, drawn by the currents of fate to the remote, lawless flanks of the spine of the continent—the Rocky Mountains. 

The last book of the series will be set in the real-time, contemporary West. That is a one hundred and seventy year story arc has been organized into eras—each with three to four novels—but all part of the series. The full description of the six eras and sixteen novels can be found at our website www.threadswestseries.com

I’m astounded by the success of the series. Like Book One when it launched, Book Two, released April 17, 2012, was an immediate #1 best seller in Western, Romance, Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Historical Romance, Women of the West and seven other related genres. Book Two continues the tale of the Book One men and women, and new characters catapult into the story. The novel begins the examination of slavery, from the viewpoint of an older slave couple setting their life sails for freedom. So, too, does Maps of Fate commence the tale–from the intensely personal perspective of an Oglala Sioux family–of the sad, dark blotch on the pages of American History which is the treatment of the Indians. 

Maps of Fate follows the evolving life threads, passions, loves, disappointments, tragedies, romances, and in some cases the pathos filled, lethal experience of the characters which the readers of Book One seem to thoroughly enjoy. Their passions, interactions, conflicts and decisions hurtle through American history towards the cloth of their destinies and still subsequent generations of the series. Book Three, Uncompaghre—where water turns rock red, will release in November 2012. 

My first narrative non-fiction work, Volume I of the three-volume Land for Love and Money series releases June 26th, everywhere. It is written for owners and wannabe owners of land—any type, size or location. It will be controversial. These are eye-opening secrets of land and real estate sales, acquisitions, management, tax and government that banks and attorneys don’t share, told in the form of sometimes humorous, sometimes serious true stories based on my extensive forty-year land related career (there’s that land thing again!). 

I hope Maps of Fate, and the overall series makes readers laugh, smile, cry, and think. I hope it stirs their love of country, sense of self, stimulates the romance and passion centers of their brains and bodies, and makes hearts beat faster with adventure, action and intrigue. 

9.      If you could have one superpower, what would it be?  

To write at the speed of light? (Big smile). Super strength. 

10.  If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do? 

Be a ranching, writing cowboy fool! 

11.  If you could have one current writer write your biography, who would you pick? 

Now—that’s a scary question! (The cowboy grins). My mom—maybe! 

Thanks much for this opportunity, Christi! It was fun. I hope it was enjoyable and informative for your visitors.

*********************************************************************

Now that you’ve met the judge for tomorrow’s contest, get those first lines of your novels ready!

The “Best First” Contest will consist of writers entering the first line of their novel. The winner receives (among other great prizes) a critique from Reid Rosenthal himself, so make sure your first sentence grabs the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting to read more. In other words, craft that hook!

Start polishing those words now because the contest opens for entries Wednesday, June 13th at 1:00 am PDT. Deadline for entries will be 11:59 pm PDT on June 22nd.

Check back tomorrow for more details.

Writing Quote Friday (Monday Edition)

I didn’t do a writing quote last Friday because of the super fun caption contest (click here to see the winners). 

Today’s writing quotes are from Jackie Collins…

If you want to achieve your dreams, you must follow them, and the best way to follow them is not to think about wanting to be very rich, but to think about doing something that you really want to do.
 
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I don’t believe in writing anything that I don’t know about or haven’t researched about personally. I like to transport the reader to places, and in order to do that I have to do the research.
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Do not copy my style! The first rule of writing is write about what you know, not what you think you know. So, think about what you’ve done in your life and write about that.