The bookcase behind my desk is crammed to overflowing with novels and nonfiction books that I helped guide to publication over the years. Mainstream novels, suspense thrillers, historical novels, autobiographies, inspirational books — you name it, it’s there. Inside most of those books are scribbled notes like Thanks, Bill! or Couldn’t have done it without you! Here are just a few of those success stories.
Experimental physicist Shane Stadler is a first-time author who took advantage of the Greenleaf evaluation and critique. His debut novel, Exoskeleton, explores the story of a convicted criminal who opts to spend his time in a new, year-long, experimental corrections program instead of serving the conventional 25-year prison term. However, he soon realizes that he’s made a horrible mistake in this dark tale of science spun dangerously out of control. Exoskeleton was released by Dark Hall Press in August 2012.
Set against the backdrop of a lifelong career in the private club industry, How Now, Norm’s Tao delves into the accomplished life of entrepreneur Norm Spitzig and surfaces with a baker’s dozen of timeless universal lessons. This witty memoir illuminates the secrets of a life well-lived and expounds upon the core principles that have kept a twinkle in Norm’s eye and a spring in his step. His sincere, captivating stories are a recipe for inspiration, practical thinking, and, most importantly, laughter. How Now is the latest in his line of bestselling books, which include Perspectives on Club Management, Private Clubs in America and around the World, and Murder and Mayhem at Old Bunbury.
When I read and evaluated Carlos Cisneros’ first novel The Case Runner, I knew it was just the beginning of his new career as a writer. Carlos, who is a Texas attorney, sent me a cleverly plotted thriller packed with political intrigue, insurance fraud, and murder set against a backdrop Carlos knows well: the south Texas border culture. The draft I received needed work in a few areas, but Carlos was able to fix those problems with the help of my detailed observations. Carlos’ second novel, The Name Partner, is scheduled for publication early next year.
Randy Denmon has a stubborn streak a mile wide. He refused to give up his search for a literary agent for his first novel even after hundreds had turned him down. When he finally convinced an agent to take him on as a client, the agent almost immediately sold The Lawless Frontier to Kensington Books as part of a multi-book contract. The historical novel went on to win a fair amount of critical acclaim. It was a finalist in both the National Writers Association’s annual novel competition and the 2007 Golden Spur Award for best original paperback novel. Randy’s second novel, The Savage Breed, was released in 2009.
Anyone who knows a Vietnam veteran knows that the war he fought three decades ago still smolders inside him. His odyssey has been well documented in countless books and documentary films. But what of his family? What of those who continue to suffer, even today, alongside him? When Willard Gray approached me with his concept for a book about the challenges faced by families of Vietnam veterans, I knew it was a book that needed to be written. Home Front: Viet Nam and Families at War tells the stories of thirteen Vietnam veterans, including Willard’s own son, and the lasting effects of the war on their families. Willard is also the author of End of a Silence: Full Moon over Fox Prairie, an historical novel based on true events.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ed Plaisted, a retired newspaper reporter and columnist, on four novels and one nonfiction book. Disaster Plan and The Impostor Wore #13 are sports-related novels that showcase Ed’s marvelous blend of drama, humor, action, and suspense. Terror in Berlin is an historical thriller that begins in 1943 London with the brutal rape and murder of an English socialite and builds into post-war intrigue guaranteed to keep the reader glued to the page. Ed is putting the finishing touches on his novel Princesses of the Sky. His nonfiction book, Checkpoint Charley’s Angels, is the true story of Verner Pike, an American hero who served as a military police lieutenant in Berlin during and after the construction of the Berlin Wall.
When I read Maureen Taylor’s autobiography, I knew its author was a woman of rare inner strength. Maureen suffered from a debilitating illness for years before it was finally diagnosed as scleroderma. Her skin became hard and Formica-like from head to toe, her lips disappeared, her front teeth protruded, and her purple hands and fingers looked more like claws. It wasn’t until she had lost nearly everything — her marriage, her health, her ability to get up and go to work every morning — that she found what truly mattered. A Place to Go: How Scleroderma Changed My Life is the inspirational true story of Maureen’s recovery from the disease and, even more dramatically, her discovery of self.
Barbara Fisher called me late one afternoon to tell me about her first novel, Stolen Moments, and I knew right away that the love of writing was in her blood. I don’t think I know anyone who is more enthralled by the process of creating characters and wrapping stories around them. If you read a few of the many Amazon reviews for Stolen Moments, you’ll understand why the love story, which explores the depths of human emotion from joy to heart-wrenching tragedy, haunts its readers long after they’ve read the last page. You’ll also understand why they were so glad when the sequel, Just Out of Reach, was published. In addition to her novel, many of the popular Chicken Soup books include Barbara’s inspiring articles.
My first venture into the Harlequin line of romance novels was with Maggie Ferguson’s intriguing novel Looks Are Deceiving. After getting her foot in the door with this novel, Maggie (a pseudonym) sold several more novels to Harlequin and established herself with readers around the world.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered people who say, “Someday I’m going to sit down and write the story of my life.” The fact is, few people who are going to write that story “someday” get around to doing it. That’s because writing is often more work than the aspiring author expected. But Van Graef did more than talk about it. He actually wrote that story even though his fingers couldn’t tap the keyboard. Van, once a gifted athlete, used speech-recognition software to write about his struggles with multiple sclerosis. His book, which holds a prominent position on my office bookshelf, is an inspiration to others who face crippling diseases.
Another autobiographer with quite a story to tell is Angus Munro. Angus’s book takes the reader through personal tales that lead from his difficult childhood all the way to his career as a hospital administrator — a grade school dropout working side-by-side with Harvard grads. The lessons Angus learned along the way will inspire readers who, like Angus, dedicate themselves to taking the high road that leads to professional success.