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 He shares the journey of this forgotten, 25-year-old unpublished novel from a dusty box to your Kindle.
Speaking of lengthy waits, Alex updates you on the next John Pilate Mysteries project.
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.
"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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
And don't forget his magnificent novels here:
Need to catch up on the first 5 books in the John Pilate #Mystery series? Look here:
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.)
There's a new episode of the Mysterious Goings On Podcast for your listening pleasure. This episode, I talk about the catastrophic hurricanes this season, what you can do to help and I also go into a little background on why Key West is so near and dear to me.
Check it out--and be sure to catch all 28 previous episodes! --Alex
Recently for my day job, I had the privilege and pleasure of joining my colleague Mike Brown of The Brainzooming Group to talk at the second Social Media and Content Workshop, hosted by the Curacao Tourist Board. Mike, who had spoken at the first workshop in 2016, covered branding and inbound marketing topics, while my session covered Facebook advertising and marketing.
We had a splendid time on this gorgeous island in the Dutch Caribbean, and I learned a few things along the way about Facebook marketing, speaking, and of course, the incredible people of Curacao.
Here, in no particular order, are ten things I learned speaking in Curacao at our sold-out workshop:
- There is so much useful information to share about Facebook marketing, advertising strategy, analytics and tactics I could have talked an entire day. As it was, I had to boil it down to about 90 minutes, plus an additional 45 minutes of Q&A.
- In that vein, I learned that many workshop attendees are hungry for step-by-step lessons on creating effective Facebook ads and campaigns. If I am asked to present on this subject again, I have learned a valuable lesson on what many businesspeople want to know the most.
- Curacaoans are some of the most vivacious, kind and fun people I've ever met. They live in a paradise; they appreciate that fact and welcome visitors to share in its culture, tourist activities and spectacular environment. You must visit if you ever get the opportunity!
- You never want to follow Mike Brown at a workshop. That guy knows his stuff and can really get an audience's attention!
- PowerPoint slides with too much content on them are almost as bad as no slide at all. (I know better--but Facebook advertising is such a complicated topic I had a tough time paring it down to a brief deck.) Though Mike and our colleague Angelo Harms from the Curacao Tourist Board helped me with editing some stuff out on rehearsal day, I know now I should have asked Mike to review and get his input ahead of the conference.
- You can never go wrong telling the audience that your "agency isn't the biggest, but it is the best." Ha!
- No matter how hard you worked to prepare, no matter how long you worked while on site, when you travel to a gorgeous locale like Curacao to work, your friends back home will think you're loafing on the beach the whole time. (Maybe those beach and boat drink pics I posted to social media gave the wrong idea…)
- If Facebook ever loses the ability to Locally Target their ads, there will be some p-o'ed people out there in the retail and tourism sectors.
- Twitter has crossed the line from being a social interaction platform into a breaking news feed. (Hat tip to my colleague from Curacao, Angelo, who gave an interesting talk about Twitter's future to open the conference).
- You can learn from the people you are speaking to. Attendees at this workshop shared valuable frontline insights into their marketing challenges as well as their takes on what is on the horizon. Being a good speaker means also being a good listener.
Thanks, Curacao! Someday I will return. Count on it!
Sorry to be out of pocket lately.
I'm not slacking, really.
I've been pretty busy trying to make things happen with the day job, so this blog--and sadly, my podcast--have been neglected. Worse still, writing on the next John Pilate Mystery, Pilate's Rose, has also taken a back seat to putting food on the table. Additionally, my longtime editor is out of commission for a while, so that necessarily makes things more complicated.
That said, if you'll stay with me, I promise there will be more this fall. More podcast episodes, more short stories, and the new JP novella.
In the meantime, faithful reader, if you could help with Amazon reviews, sharing my books on social media, catching up on (and reviewing!) Mysterious Goings On episodes and ordering autographed copies, it sure would help! No pressure.
Don't forget to get in on your shot at discounts, prizes, and news by signing up for my monthly newsletter. It will start this fall and subscribers will get deals nobody else does!
Okay, enough of that. I need to get back to work. I will be in touch.
John, Kate, Taters join me in saying thanks so much for your continued support.
Hey ebook fans...if you don't like buying from Amazon, please note all six of my ebooks are available on Smashwords, where you can get them in ANY ereader format you need. I could sure use some reviews on Smashwords (and sales...well, that goes without saying!) so if you're shopping for some fun, award-recognized ebooks, check out Smashwords, would you?