Clues: Alex's Blog

The New Look for "Pilate's Cross"

Very excited to unveil the new cover for the first book in the John Pilate Mysteries, "Pilate's Cross"!

I'm working with the talented Jason McIntyre to reimagine the covers of the first four books in the series. This is no slight to the original covers done by a talented artist, but I want a more consistent, cohesive, and yes, much more commercially-viable aesthetic that makes it easier for readers to identify the series by the cover.

We will roll out the new covers for "Pilate's Key", "Pilate's Ghost" and "Pilate's Blood" over this next few months.

I hope you will agree that Jason's work evokes the unique mood of each book, while still tying together the serialistic threads.

Also, in the case of this first book, this is the third revised edition. We fixed a few minor errors and reset the interior design for the paperback version. So, if you have this #ebook in your Amazon.com #Kindle now, it should download this newer (final!) version next time you refresh it.

Please note the new paperback is not yet directly tied to the existing Kindle and audiobook pages yet, so if you are interested in picking up this new version in paperback, be sure to use the link below until the old version is retired.

NEW Third Edition:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1796816493

And if you need a copy of the old paperback version, that link is still live for a few more days--just goto the ebook version and click over to the paperback.

Second Edition Paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/055743047X/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_oZvACbRMMGHMB

Jason also did a version for the audiobook:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DG6UYLA/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_10vACbDSAM6CG

And of course if you want an autographed version, just message me here and we will get it taken care of.

Thanks for your support. I hope you like the new, fresh look for the John Pilate Mysteries!


Keep reading...


Alex

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Undefeated

Today I said farewell to my dear friend. If you couldn't be there, here's my eulogy for the Reverend Jeff Hamilton. You can hear the recording of his eulogy on the Mysterious Goings On podcast.

Undefeated
A few thoughts about Jeff Hamilton

Friends, family, Reverend, Wanda…thank you for this opportunity to say a few words about a man who is obviously so beloved by so many, our dear friend Jeff.

It was a few years ago that Jeff asked me to do this, to say a few words at his services. I told him, of course, but it was too soon to talk of such things--and just what would I say? He did that wry Jeff Hamilton smile and said, half-teasing, “Just say a few words about our times on the field of battle!”

So here I am, Jeff. Here are my few words about you, the right Reverend Representative.

When I think of Jeff, it all starts with one word.
Undefeated.

Jeff Hamilton never lost an election.

I asked him a couple of years ago about his time at the Capitol. Here’s what he said:

"My nickname at the Capitol among some good friends was 'landslide' because I seldom won re-election by very many votes. I won my first election over the Republican incumbent by 101 votes."

His district was House 101.

The elections were close. But all the same, Landslide Hamilton was undefeated.

From 1986 to 1994, Jeff served four distinguished terms in the state legislature. Jeff’s service was where his heart was—caring for all Oklahomans, for all people--as chairman of the House Committee on Health and Mental Health. He helped Oklahomans in a variety of arenas, including juvenile justice, mental health, AIDS research and treatment programs, and education. If you have a Living Will here in Oklahoma, you can thank Jeff Hamilton.
He worked hard and served without pretension or vanity.

One House staffer said this about Jeff:

“What I remember about Jeff Hamilton was how nice a man he was. He always took time with staff. I remember that he was an early believer in criminal justice reform and restorative justice (probably the minister in him).”

Jeff was at the Capitol to work. He viewed his service as a sacred trust and took a dim view of those who did not. He told me:

"There were those who won big on the campaign trail but goofed off once elected! And even worse, there were those who lost who would have been productive members of the Legislature."

Amen, Landslide!

There is not enough time at these proceedings to speak of his many successes and the myriad ways he made Oklahoma better through his legislative service; suffice to say he left the Capitol better than he found it, and then left the legislature on his own terms.

Undefeated.

It was just after he decided to retire from the legislature that I, as a naïve, well-meaning, first-time candidate, met Jeff and Wanda. I was full of idealism and energy—ready to take back the seat Jeff had retired from. Jeff and Wanda were both so kind and encouraging to this goofy kid who shared their zeal for a better Oklahoma.

I tried like heck, and Lord knows Jeff made calls and knocked doors and did what he could to help me win, but I didn’t. I was down, and Jeff let me wallow in my defeat for a grandly expansive three or four days before he reminded me there were still battles to fight and more elections ahead—and that true defeat was to stop the fight for what is right.

Around that time, Jeff turned back to the ministry here at First Christian, continuing his work through different channels; but he kept his hand in politics, winning two terms as Oklahoma County Democratic Party chairman. I served with him as county party secretary and can tell you that he took on the job at a very challenging time. It was one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in local politics and he did it with zeal and unflagging energy. Under his leadership he helped reorganize and reinvigorate the county party, making it a forceful advocacy and field operation.

I saw him take piercing criticism from the opposition, and even members of our own side at times. He endured it with grace, refusing to get in the mud.

Instead, he strove to build consensus with the strength of his reasoning; I believe his was a political philosophy assured of the value of education and the indispensable need for empathy.

Jeff’s sword was his intellect, his armor was his compassion.

I’m a poor Boswell for all the many wise things my mentor told me over our 24-year friendship, but the gist about loss, whether it was a failed election campaign, a broken relationship, or even death, was that in moments of defeat we need not be wholly defeated. That in loss there is a lesson.

In 2003, I moved away from Oklahoma, and friends, I felt defeated in so many ways. It seemed my best chance to restart my life and career was to leave everything and everyone I knew for a job out of state.

And when I found the love of my life on the road to that new chapter, Jeff was the minister who traveled to our wedding and married Stephanie and me. When we were Baptized, Jeff and Wanda and her mother June came up to Kansas City. I think he loved it that I moved to and adopted his hometown, and I treasure the day we all piled into the car and saw the parts of KC where he grew up.

When our daughter came along, he and Wanda spoiled her whenever we visited. Amidst discussions about politics, the Sooners and spirituality, Jeff would move the candy bowl a little closer to Caroline (and himself).

“Caroline, you say you want more candy?”

Jeff was there when my family needed him. Years ago my mother was very ill and we nearly lost her. Jeff was there with an arm around my Dad and prayers and words of comfort for us all. When my grandfather passed away, Jeff helped my entire family get through it with his sermon and service. But we weren’t the only ones. How many people in this wonderful church were on the receiving end of Jeff’s good works and kindness?

How many of us from a variety of faiths were brought closer together by Jeff’s leadership of the Interfaith Alliance?

The past few years, even though Jeff’s physical body started to wither, his mind was ever-sharp and his spirit still bold. His weekly emails with thoughtful prayers and his enumerable, witty letters to the editor were high points. But the best was football season.

Being a good son of Kansas City, Jeff was a Chiefs fan, and I had become one not long after I moved there. He was great with a smartphone, and we would text each other throughout games, cheering touchdowns and cussing our terrible defense and those incompetent refs. We’d do the same with the Sooners. Football became yet another battle we could join together, with renewed fellowship; a way to find a victory even in defeat on the gridiron.

The Chiefs came very close to the Super Bowl this year. As usual, we texted during the season. My last text from Jeff was on the day of the AFC Championship. After a heartbreaker of a loss, I texted him a sad face emoji.

Within moments he texted back an exclamation point and a flower emoji. I knew what he meant. No tears! We still love our team.

If we learn from loss, remain loyal to our friends, and keep compassion in our hearts, we will be like Jeff.

He’s not here physically, yet I feel him. I feel his presence, especially in this sacred space where he shared so many brilliant sermons. And I will reach for this feeling the rest of my days when I feel loss or despair. I will think of my dear friend Jeff and the true meaning of undefeated.

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Happy New Year

Hey everyone, just a quick note to say happy new year!

After a great vacay, I’m energized and ready to get my body and mind back in shape, which, as cliche’ as that sounds, is going well. More than that, however, I feel a renewed creative energy and am working on new John Pilate (and non JP) stuff for you this year.

Want to learn more? Make sure you are a subscriber to Mysterious Goings On, my podcast. You’ll get plenty of updates there. We should have 1-2 episodes a month this year.

Want to encourage me a bit? How about posting reviews for my books on Amazon? It’s quick, painless and really boosts my energy to write more. (Same for the podcast—reviews help.)

So, how about you? What’s going in your world? Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon…keep reading.

Alex

New Podcast Episode!

Listen in here on your desktop to learn about Alex's latest book (which is actually his late Grandfather's) Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West. He shares the journey of this forgotten, 25-year-old unpublished novel from a dusty box to your Kindle.

Autographed paperbacks hereAmazon link here for ebooks and non-autographed copies.

Speaking of lengthy waits, Alex updates you on the next John Pilate Mysteries project.

Of course, it's Halloween, and Alex has some fun spooky podcasts he recommends you check out, including: 

Astonishing Legends

The Halloween Haunt

Halloween Unmasked

The Retroist

Hauntcast

UNTIL NEXT TIME....Keep Reading.

Podcast music by Incompetech.



Twenty-Five Years Later, Grandson Finishes Grandfather's Final Novel

Late Western Novel Writer's Last Book Now Available

Robert E. Trevathan's five-decade career as a novelist ended twenty-five years ago with an unsold, unfinished manuscript, but 25 years later his grandson made sure it was brought to publication.

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"In 1993, my grandfather was in touch with Avalon books, which had published his work before, about this manuscript, but they passed on it," said his grandson, Alex Greenwood. "At the time I was editor of a small town weekly newspaper, and we were planning to serialize it, but then the newspaper closed, so the book never saw publication."

When Trevathan passed away in 2002, his papers were given to Greenwood, who put them in storage. A recent move reminded Greenwood, himself a mystery writer, about the last of Trevathan's twenty-plus Western novels.

"I found Big Cabin amongst his papers and remembered it had never made it to press, so I thought I would do it with my publisher, Caroline Street Press."

Greenwood had one problem: the first chapter was missing.

"I frantically looked everywhere, but it was gone. I suspect it was lost back in 1993 at the newspaper in the confusion when the paper shut down. So, working closely with my editor, I reconstructed the first chapter."

Greenwood and editor Robert Hayes, Jr. worked for months polishing the manuscript, leading to the publication of Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West (2018 Caroline Street Press 261 pages available in ebook and paperback exclusively from Amazon.com). The book cover by Jason McIntyre features a pair of horses in the sunset, one riderless.

Making sure Trevathan's historical research details were integrated smoothly into an exciting story of the beginnings of several towns in Southeastern Kansas and Northeastern Oklahoma in the late 1880s was most important to Greenwood and Hayes.

"My grandfather was a writer and historian, so his books were very meticulously researched," Greenwood said. "He had a knack for weaving real people and events into exciting stories of cowboys, frontier entrepreneurs and in this book, Ginger Young, a heroic, dedicated female news reporter."

He added that residents of Parsons, Kansas, Vinita, Oklahoma and of course, Big Cabin, Oklahoma will find the book a treat--as will railroad buffs. "You get a deeper understanding of how the railroads were instrumental in building America."

Greenwood also found a short story; "Cherokee Strip or Bust" originally published in a pulp Western magazine in 1957, and added it as a bonus, along with several essays, poems and letters Trevathan wrote in the last ten years of his life.

"He was deeply in love with history and words," Greenwood said. "Something he passed on to me. I hope this book, which is a love letter to his generation of writers of Western fiction, will help him find new fans. Most of his previous novels are out of print now, but you can find them online here and there and in some libraries. I think he's a great talent just waiting for a new generation to discover him."

"I think he would be really tickled by this book," he added. "He never lived to see the rise of ebooks and Kindles--he wrote all of his books on an old manual Smith Corona typewriter, and we of course never got a chance to write together, so this is very special to me."

About Robert E. Trevathan

A historian by trade, the Detroit-born cowboy Robert E. Trevathan fell under the spell of the Old West at an early age. After serving with distinction in the Navy during World War II, then teaching English in Japan, he spent a few years as a writer toiling in the pulp Western magazines (including Texas Ranger and the curiously fun Ranch Romances - an action-packed story from 1957, one of several that earned publication in that periodical, is featured herein). His first published novel was Dead in the Saddle (writing as Trev Roberts in 1959). He moved into hardback the next year with Stage to Laredo, and then began a long string of popular books with numerous publishers including Avalon, Criterion, and Thomas Bouregy & Co.

Other "Trev Roberts" works included Rawhide Trap (1962); Comanche Interlude (1963); The Hide Hustlers (1967); Cannon River (1967); and Desert Campfires (1967, in U.K. as Desert Flame, 1970). As Robert E. Trevathan he wrote Longhorns for Fort Sill (1962); Badman's Roost (1963); Showdown at Ringold (1968); Longhorn Gold (1971 in U.K. as The Moonstone Bullet); Ballanger (1974); Tracking the Bar-J Gold (1979); Rawhide Legacy (1983); Ransom Trail (1984); Ambush (1984); Plunder Trail (1985); Shootout (1985); Holdup (1986); Oklahoma Outrider (1988); Red River Bullets (1990); Red River Angel (1997) and finally, Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West (2018).

His signature work, the award-winning, cinematic and gritty Ballanger, earned the prestigious Colt. 44 Western writing award in 1974. He passed away in 2002.

About J. Alexander Greenwood

J. Alexander Greenwood is the author of the award-nominated John Pilate Mystery Series; including Pilate's Cross, Pilate's Key, Pilate's Ghost, Pilate's Blood, Pilate's 7 and Pilate's Rose. He also wrote the nonfiction top seller, Kickstarter Success Secrets. The Oklahoma native resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

For more information, visit Amazon.com, Caroline Street Press or PilatesCross.com.

 

ON SALE NOW: "Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West"

My friends, at long last, my grandpa's last book. I am honored to present to you the ebook version...paperback coming soon. Ladies and gentlemen...

Twenty-five years ago, noted, award-winning Western author Robert E. Trevathan hung up his spurs for the last time and retired, leaving "Big Cabin", his final manuscript, uncompleted. Now his grandson J. Alexander Greenwood has finished this Oklahoma cowboy's last ride for your enjoyment. Presented together with a classic Trevathan short story of familial love and conflict during the Oklahoma Land Rush, along with a trove of his later essays, wit, and correspondence, "Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West" is a breath of history, fiction, and lore of the Old West.

Ebook available on Amazon.com…Paperback coming exclusively to Amazon October 2018.

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Writing, Editing and Prison

The Mysterious Goings On podcast returns with a spirited and often poignant discussion with editor and writer Robert Hayes, Jr., author of Stay Out of Prison: A Practical Guide to Avoiding Incarceration.

In this lively discussion, Robert shares his freelancer journey and philosophy about creative work. He tells writers what they need to know about working with editors and the significance of a sketchy toilet.

Robert has also spent time in some of Colorado's finest Graybar Hotels for bank robbery. He tells Alex why you should never use a gun in a robbery and most importantly how and what he is doing to stay out of prison. 

Robert edited Alex's acclaimed novel Pilate's Blood and the award-winning short story compilation Pilate's 7 and is editor of the upcoming Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West by Robert E. Trevathan.

You won't want to miss this one! Click below or visit the 

Itunes link here.

 

Overcoming Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription

Guest Post

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If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.

If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.

Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.

Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.

I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).

Part I: Extraction

Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.

  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.

  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.

  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.

  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.

Part II: Transcription

Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️

A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.

Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.

Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).

A few more tips:

  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is... @#*! where was I?”)

  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.

  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.

  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.

  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.

The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.

But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article is originally published by Descript.

'The Terror' is Satisfying, Must-See TV

I'm not going into depth on this series here--saving it for my next podcast episode once this show concludes--but I just have to say how much I genuinely enjoy AMC's new "survival horror" drama, The Terror

Loosely based on real events with suspense, horror and yes, terror injected into the show's historical sinew, this is satisfying and true must-see TV. It's also superior to the tired The Walking Dead.

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I've also made a note to visit the show's source material, the novel by Dan Simmons. I'll cover this more in the next Mysterious Goings On, but needless to say, I am both impatient to see how it ends, yet simultaneously dreading the inevitable as well.

Here's a synopsis, if you'd care to check it out (catch up online here):

British Royal Navy Capt. Sir John Franklin is nearing the end of an uneven career. Described as "a man everyone likes, but no one respects," Franklin has seen men die under his leadership on previous expeditions, and now he would like to retire with honors by discovering the Northwest Passage. Guiding the HMS Erebus into uncharted territory, Franklin's most perilous journey yet pushes his crew to the brink of extinction. Frozen, isolated and stuck at the end of the earth, the men have been put in horrible danger by their commander's Victorian hubris. A struggle to survive ignites infighting, and Franklin must try to undo the damage he has caused.

New Podcast Episode: Rumors of My Death...

After a five-month hiatus, Mysterious Goings On returns!

In this episode...

Alex updates you on the mundane details of his health along with news of the latest John Pilate Mystery, Pilate's Rose.

He also breaks news about his collaboration with the late author Robert E. Trevathan and a very special premium for John Pilate fans! 

Get the show free on Apple Podcasts or listen right here:

 

 

On My Way to #AWP2018

Greetings from 32,000 feet. I'm seated in the exit row of a 737, heading for Tampa to attend my first writer's conference, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. I know, I know... what took me so long? 

Well, the easiest answer is I view writing as a fairly solitary endeavor and getting together with thousands of other writers--the successful, the hopeful and the desperately hopeless--has never been at the top of my list.

That's not to say I don't enjoy other writers; truly some of my best friends make things up for a living. I guess I'm just not much of a joiner. That said. I'm looking forward to learning some things, meeting new people and perhaps--just perhaps--recapturing some of that fire to write something completely my own, unencumbered by the trappings of a series or the expectations of others.

We'll just see about that. 

Anyway, I plan to do a few Facebook Live broadcasts over the next three days, so feel free to like my page and get notified when I'm on.

Also, I hope you're enjoying the latest John Pilate Mystery, Pilate's Rose.

I'm pleased to say that it has received some nice comments, though sales have been pretty dreary. If you want to help me pay my AWP Conference bar bill, be sure to pick up a copy.

Okay, that's it for now. Be well, and if you're in Tampa say hi. Locate me using my Facebook page or Twitter @A_Greenwood.

PREORDER NOW AND SAVE!

Awash in insecurity, restlessness, and booze, John Pilate is ripped from his quiet home life by a voice he never expected to hear again. Dark figures from his past want payback, and Pilate's own indiscretions are catching up to him, threatening to destroy his marriage and blow his world apart. 

Evil is in full bloom in Pilate's Rose...

Pre-order your ebook copy today and save $1 off retail! Paperback preorder info coming soon.

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PILATE'S ROSE COVER REVEAL JAN. 10 at NOON CENTRAL

Ladies and gentlemen, join us for the cover reveal of "Pilate's Rose". At noon central time Jan. 10, 2018 the rose will be in bloom!

Visit https://www.facebook.com/John.Pilate.... to check it out!

Thanks to the talented Jason McIntyre for his fantastic, "explosive" design!

Please let us know your thoughts about the cover--and what you think it may mean for John Pilate and company--in the comments section below.

Check back on Facebook FRIDAY, Jan. 12 for "Pilate's Rose" #preorder info!

Learn more about Jason's book cover artistry here:
http://www.thefarthestreaches.com/p/g...

And don't forget his magnificent novels here:
http://www.thefarthestreaches.com/p/t...

Need to catch up on the first 5 books in the John Pilate #Mystery series? Look here: 
https://www.amazon.com/…/e/B004LSNT4G...