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Season Four is Here

Have you listened in to episode one of season four yet? We're thrilled to kick off season 4 with a spirited discussion with legendary broadcaster and voiceover artist Mary McKenna!

Mary discusses her life in radio, including terrestrial, satellite, internet and more. She also shares her thoughts on the radio industry in the age of #MeTo and the future of broadcasting.

You'll also find out why she initially couldn't stand Alex and what makes her skin crawl. Don't miss it!

Learn more and get in touch with Mary here. Listen to Mary on SirusXM satellite radio's Landline Now.

This Thursday, we’ll welcome Chef and food writer Pete Dulin. Other upcoming guests include an actor, a minister, a photographer, and a product designer—all discussing the use of creativity in their work.

Be sure to subscribe to Mysterious Goings On on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your pod.

Amazon Alexa

Do you use Amazon Alexa? Get flash briefings? If so, please consider adding the Mysterious Goings On skill for weekly briefs you won’t get anywhere else.

Award Nominated!

And finally, we’re thrilled to announce Mysterious Goings On is nominated for two People’s Choice Podcast Awards. We’ll find out next week if we move on to the finals.

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

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 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.

Hey, We're Back!

Sorry to be away for so long...been finishing up the new JP mystery, Pilate's Rose.

More on that shortly, but in the meantime, don't forget you can buy autographed books for the holidays right here on the site: click here! (Note we have a limited supply on hand, but can promise delivery if you order no later than Dec. 20, depending upon your order. Feel free to email me -- Alex (at) Alexgpr.com -- if you want to ask before you order.)

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Also, don't forget to catch up on my podcast on iTunes. More episodes coming in 2018!

Get regular updates on Facebook. More to come! Thanks for your support. Keep reading!

 

My Comfort Zone Has Mud and Barbed Wire

By Alex Greenwood

"Did you think you could do it?" my friend asked, his face earnest.

"What? Finish the race? Yes. I did," glancing at a large purple and green bruise on my left bicep. "But I was nervous about taking the plunge. It's intimidating in a lot of ways."

I was referring to the Rugged Maniac, a 5 kilometer obstacle course/race held at Snow Creek ski area near Weston, Missouri on July 23, 2016. Here's how the Rugged Maniac folks describe it:

Picture this:  You arrive at Snow Creek on July 23rd with a carload of your most adventurous friends.  As you step out you notice the people around you admiring your group’s coordinated “Avengers-in-bathing-suits” costumes and your on-point Hulk-green body paint. In the festival, people are already riding the mechanical bull and playing beach volleyball (Rugged Maniac is definitely more than just a mud run), but you’re more interested in the stein-hoisting contest on the main stage. You make a note to sign up for that and the pie-eating contest after you run.  You see obstacles in the distance – mud-covered people jumping over fire, bouncing on trampolines, rocketing down a huge water slide – and your surging excitement confirms what you already knew: Today is going to be awesome!

"So why did you do it? To win or...?"

I thought a moment, then explained, "Win? No chance. I just wanted to finish it."

 

"Why?"

"I wanted to do two things: one, prove I could do it, two, to shake things up a little. I was getting stale. Not just physically, either."

So, joining a team of pals from my local gym, 9Round Kickboxing Fitness of Waldo (Sidebar: without the past ten months getting in the best shape of my life at 9Round Waldo, I would NEVER have attempted this) I hit the snow-free slopes in 100-degree heat for more than an hour of running, climbing obstacles, treading water, crawling through mud, squat-walking through tunnels, swinging on rings, jumping over fire and much more. It was hard. Really hard. Days later I'm still terribly bruised and achy.

But you know what? It was fantastic and I want to go again. Why? Because I can, and it reminded me of a different me: a hungrier, more energetic, less risk-averse me.

My friend then told me my eyes were bright when I talked about it, and that I had a more confident bearing since the race. He reminded me that when he texted me after the race and asked "Did you die?" I texted back a photo of me, exhausted at the finish line with the words "And was reborn."

What about you? Are you pushing yourself outside your comfort zone? Are you making it happen in your business by taking risks, jumping through the fire, swinging over the water hazards or climbing under the barbed wire? Or are you playing it safe?

The rewards of safety are many: comfort and fewer negative surprises are at the top of that list. The rewards of risk may get you bruised, but it can also get you to new levels and wake up something inside you--perhaps a "rebirth" to the day you started your business?

Reborn?

Maybe an obstacle race isn't for you. Maybe it's guitar lessons or giving speeches at Toastmasters. Just do something to knock you out of that comfort zone. Push yourself. You may like what you find.

But I like something that ends with a giant water slide, myself. By the way, my friend? He's joining me for my next obstacle race.

WHEEEEEEEE!

WHEEEEEEEE!

What's New

Hello and a belated happy New Year to you. I hope you East Coast readers are weathering the blizzard okay. Probably best to stay in and read a good book. (!)

A quick update on what's happening here:

I've spent the past few weeks getting back to normal pace at the day job since the relative inactivity of the holidays. I'm on month four of a kickboxing exercise regimen and I love it--as hard as it has been to get in shape, it's definitely worth it. I wonder if John Pilate will try it, too?

Been catching up on my reading, also...if you have not read Jason McIntyre's Zed you're missing out on a hell of a good book.

The new collection of Stephen King short stories has been a bit of a chore, frankly, and a letdown compared to the masterpiece that is Full Dark, No StarsBut hey, he's King. Even his average stuff is usually worth a read. In the case of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, I mostly enjoy his introductions, which illuminate the backstory behind writing each piece, 

If you're reading this, however, chances are you're more interested in when you might hear from our friends in Cross Township again, right?

Well, I have some things that are working...and some things that are not. I have been working (struggling may be a better word) on a project that involves a completely new direction for my "brand" as a writer, and must confess it's not catching fire. More on that as it develops (or doesn't, for that matter).

Back to John Pilate. 

The surprise success of Pilate's 7 with the breezier short story format is intriguing. I enjoyed writing those stories immensely, and sales have been fairly brisk. That said, I'm contemplating another round of short stories, then returning to the novel format. I'd love your thoughts on that--just plug 'em in in the comments section.

Otherwise, I am putting thoughts together on a novel that is more of a mainstream affair--something different from the mystery/thriller/horror stuff. I'm not saying it will be out anytime soon, but it takes up some mental real estate that I usually devote to the Pilate Mysteries. 

I'm very excited about the return of a show I literally watched from the beginning: The X-Files. I am a huge fan and am looking forward to seeing what Mulder and Scully are up to these days. 

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for dropping by, and I hope if you have not done so already you will write a quick review of my stuff on Amazon. Just click here to find the books. Thanks so much...stay warm!