A Ton of Gold by James R. Callan
Our guest blogger is James R. Callan, author of A Ton of Gold. After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his fifth book released in 2013.
Welcome, Jim. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Jim: I am married to Earlene Callan. We have four children (one son and three daughters) and six grandchildren (four grandsons and two granddaughters).
What fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?
Jim: I just gave a surprise birthday party for Earlene. All the kids and grandkids came to stay at our Texas home for four days—big surprise. Earlene had no idea. Then, on Saturday another twenty friends and family showed up for lunch. It was fun. Unique? Hmmm. I took an undergraduate degree in English. Then entered a Ph.D. program in mathematics.
Please describe yourself with three words.
Jim: Adventuresome, laid back, confident.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Jim: I enjoy reading, traveling, and working around our Texas property, clearing trees and cutting new trails.
How did you become involved in writing?
Jim: I had intended to write when I graduated from college, but soon found out I could not support a family doing that. So, I entered graduate school in mathematics. I pursued a career in research in the field of mathematics, which segued into computer science. Many years later when the kids were all out of college and self-supporting, I thought, “I don’t have to support a family. I can go back to my first love – writing.” At first, I wrote some non-fiction. But soon I began to write what I had always intended to write – mystery and suspense.
Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?
Jim: I have a nice office in our Texas home and a nice office in our Puerto Vallarta home. They are rather different. The Texas office is very quiet – we live in the middle of a forest. The Mexico office is always filled with music – from the happy Mexican people.
Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?
Jim: I always have a working title. But that seldom is the title that ends up on the published book. For example, my latest suspense novel is titled A Ton of Gold. But from day one, I thought of it as Crystal and Gold.
Please tell us about A Ton of Gold.
Jim: Crystal Moore is a computer scientist. Her only living relative, the grandmother who raised her, calls to say someone is trying to kill her. Crystal suddenly finds herself in the midst of murder, arson and kidnapping, all because of an old Texas folktale and the lure of gold. And as she struggles with these unknown assailants, the man who nearly destroyed her emotionally comes back. This time, he can ruin her career. Crystal will need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, a street-wise friend, and her feisty, 76 year old grandmother.
What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?
Jim: I hope people are reminded of the importance of family and the need to believe in yourself.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
Jim: I had long wanted to use someone involved in computer research, as I had done that for many years. Then, I read an old Texas folktale. The two ideas percolated in my head for awhile, merged, and A Ton of Gold resulted.
Did you have to do any research for this book?
Jim: This book required little research. I had worked as a computer scientist; I had lived in Dallas and east Texas, and I started with the folktale.
How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
Jim: I began writing about sixteen years ago. I sold my first non-fiction book maybe fifteen years ago. And my first mystery/suspense book sold in 1999.
What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?
Jim: First, be persistent. Madeline L'Engle's masterpiece A Wrinkle in Time received 26 rejections, then went on to win the Newberry Medal. Second, study the craft of writing. And third, join a writers group (one that is serious about improving writing).
What are you working on now?
Jim: I am putting the finishing touches on a book on the craft of writing, titled How to Write Great Dialog. This follows my book on character development, Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel, (Oak Tree Press, 2013). As soon as the dialog book goes off to the publisher, I will begin to polish my second Crystal Moore book, currently titled The Silver Medallion.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Jim: Read good authors. And write, write, write.
Please tell our readers where they can get your book.
Jim: The easiest way to find my books is to check on Amazon. All are in print and most are also in Kindle editions. My author page on Amazon is at: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Please tell our readers where they can find you online.
My website is www.jamesrcallan.com
My blog is at www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
Any parting comment?
Jim: Thank you, Jo, for having me on your site today. I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and your readers.
Jim, thank for your your interesting interview. I enjoyed your visit with my readers and me. One of the commenters will win a copy of Ton of Gold, which you’ve graciously offered.
Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Wednesday, September 18, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of A Ton of Gold by James R. Callan. Please, please remember to leave your email address. I’ll need you email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you. I’ll announce the winner in Thursday’s blog.
The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Serenity to Accept by Elizabeth Maddrey is BarbaraT. I'll email you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.
Till next time ... keep on smiling.