Wednesday, April 9, 2014

 The Would-be Life of a Touring Blogger. Another Opportunity -  Lost ?

  I do admire the outpouring of writers who also blog, on a regular basis. And the promise of eager new readers just itching to snatch up the latest morsels before flipping over to the 'Buy NOW' button on whatever this week's social networking device is, to purchase my book.
Those were the starry-eyed promises I momentarily considered before I accepted the kind invitation of an anonymous ex-Pat, ex-Navy, ex-Editor to join him aboard the Bloggers Express to fame and fortune.
Unfortunately the scheme ran out of steam before it could include us aboard to reach our destination.
Like - that's never happened before!
Sometimes we live and learn - and sometimes we should be  satisfied to just keep on living.
The premise was a selected group of writers would be asked to respond to the same four questions; following a brief biography.
As dear old Winnie was wont to say: "Sorry, I did not have time to write a short letter."
Time taken from writing is begrudged.
However, the work was done and no writer likes to waste words so, this may serve a purpose in bringing you up to date on my past and current activities.
[Only the names have been XXX'd out to protect the identity of the innocent.]

Thumbnail bio & Pic:
British Journalist Jack Owen's UK news beat included Broadmoor Institute for the Criminally Insane, and Sandhurst Military Academy. Those extremes provided many Stop Press stories for Fleet Street newspapers. Later, as a crime reporter in the USA, his years spent upstairs and downstairs in the Palm Beaches, Florida, led to publication of Palm Beach Scandals - An Intimate Guide. It debuted on the Joan Rivers Show and was featured at the ABA (American Booksellers Association) Miami convention.
Owen has also dealt in antiquarian book sales, piddled around in boats and partnered in a catering company for the social set.
Thanks to XXX XXXXXX's savvy as a social network maven who urged me aboard...rather like being Press-ganged ;^}

What am I working on?
Currently roughing out the first draft of Book II in the David Porter saga - only five more to go.
America's Porter, a child of the 1776 Revolution, hero of the War of 1812, a pirate killer who rid the Caribbean of their ilk from his newly-created Key West base, He adopted the boy David Glasgow Farragut of “Damn the torpedoes – Full Steam Ahead!” fame. Porter has been my pet project for decades.
As a born-again procrastinator, it recently became apparent my library of Porter'iana and related characters, fascinating as it is, will not transform itself into the seven books I envisaged. Every few years a new, Non-Fiction, version of Porter will emerge. C.S. Forester even based one of his books on some of Porter's exploits, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
But Porter has more hutzpah than Hornblower and is quite a bit hornier. Porter did not got the good press of John Paul Jones. He's certainly colorful enough for today's tabloids. He was impressed as a youth by the Royal Navy, and escaped. He was charged with murder in Baltimore and acquitted, He was imprisoned by Barbary pirates and freed (during the USMC's first covert wartime overseas operation, on the shores of Tripoli. He was fired following a courts martial, reinstated, quit, then was pursued by assassins hired by Mexicans upset at the way he handled their war. As US Consul in Constantinople, Porter anticipated the political tsunami which lead to the Crimea War.
Quite a lad!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Its less formulaic and predictable, just like life which is stranger than fiction, than most market-driven books.
I inhaled the entertainments of Forester, Reeman, and Stockwin. Montserrat and Shute, Christie and Fleming, Wodehouse and Wylie. But eventually I overdosed on those favorite authors. A voyage too far, a clue too cute and a quip too slick.
It seems forever-ago now, but Truman Capote's In Cold Blood upended the true-crime genre of magazines and books, once consumed by cops and reporters alike. His fictionalization of the facts which everybody knew, was spellbinding. A darn good read. (I'd love to read the villains impressions of him.)
Millions of words have been printed about Porter. Monuments, streets, towns bear his name. His wide-spread family tree could create a cottage-industry based on his name and namesakes. (One member of a writer's feedback group I'm in, is a great-great-etc granddaughter of Porter. She tends to refers to his fighting frigates as, 'the family yachts'.)
Because he was a hot-head and un-PC, long before that term was in vogue. Because he was unpredictable, both a hero and a villain in the same breath, and because of his contrary traits, he will continue to be a source of many stories to come.

Why do I write what I do?
I write what I want to read. If what I write for pleasure finds fellow-travelers – Bingo!
The difference between being a staff-writer for a newspaper, or subject-specific freelance-writer, means following a format dictated by a general-interest readership or focus on one subject. The combination of having a short attention-span and an inquiring mind served me well in both fields. Empty pages between the advertisements, require interesting and entertaining prose to draw readers eyes through the gamut of peripheral temptations.
If there were no news stories or titillating features, whatever could one do to prevent all those advertisements bumping into each other?
Being rewarded for sustaining a book-length story, with no guarantees of sales in sight, is an act of faith in ones own abilities to achieve a goal.
The standard answer mountaineers give to people who ask why is. “Because its there.”  Apply that reply to writer's, too.
Completing a book is satisfying and perhaps, a challenge to others to try as well

How does my writing process work?
Living beyond my means is a great motivator.
I spent a lifetime working against deadlines 24/7. Breaking news does not respect a time-clock And editors do not forget missed deadlines. My mantra to all wannabes is:You can't Edit an Empty Page.
One of these days I'll turn it into a Tee-Shirt!
I tend to overload on information, absorbing every morsel into all pores. Time and space will determine story size. But, while mindfully pruning material to fit,  that spiked copy emerges by some sort of osmosis, onto the page. A reader will instinctively know when a story is padded with extra prose.
One day, just for giggles, line up the same story snipped a daily broadsheet (if there are any left), a weekly newspaper, and the supermarket tabloid rack. The basics are there – and so are those phantom facts slashed by the editorial red pen.
I know, you know, what I know ;^)


  1. I liked it, Jack! And whatever you do, stay non-PC. :)

  2. If I were into posters, Christopher Hitchens would be head and shoulders above the rest !