The Closeout Kings may not be as fictional as I thought

When fiction looks like fact

When fiction looks like fact

This is a tough blog post to write without giving away spoilers in The Closeout Kings, so if you haven’t read the book, you may want to stop reading now.  I’m going to vamp a little here with an unnecessary sentence or two to give you time to turn back and save your virginal eyes from the spoilers that are to follow.  Still here? Okay, I’ll assume you’ve either read the book, or spoilers don’t ruin your enjoyment of a story.  Whatever the case, the spoilers start now.

I faced a lot of self-doubt as I was writing The Closeout Kings.  My main issue was the human trafficking aspect of the story.  I know globally that it is a horrific reality, but naively I thought the problem isn’t that pervasive in the United States. Still I carried on, and I wrote a story about a human trafficking ring in rural America that involved the police and politicians, both local and federal.  It was, I thought, pure twisted fantasy.  As it turns out, it is closer to reality than I thought.

My friend Jean recently brought the Franklin child prostitution ring to my attention. Now, it’s a long and complicated tale of alleged sexual abuse of children in the foster care system in Nebraska, and the federal courts actually found the allegations to be false, and they tossed some of the people making the allegations into jail.  There are a significant number of people who think there is a cover up going on since the allegations involved prominent politicians with ties that go all the way to the top of the federal government,  At this point, I know very little about the case, but it is hard to not see the similarities between my fictional tale and this true story.  It’s almost eerily similar.

Part of my job as a writer is to come up with conspiracies.  They make for great tools of conflict that drive both plot and character development.  Conspiracies are easy to invent, but I’m of the belief they are almost impossible to pull off. The story of The Closeout Kings came to me “out of the blue.” I had no prior knowledge of the Franklin case, but you can bet I’m going to be obsessively looking into it over the next weeks and months.  In fact, I found this documentary on YouTube that I plan to watch.

The Closeout Kings musical countdown, day 3, part 1

I got a few more song suggestions yesterday, so I’m going to have to do a couple posts a day to get them all in before the release date.  The release date for what?  The Closeout Kings.  When is the release date? October 24, 2014.  When is that?  This Friday.  That’s it.  That’s as subtle a sales pitch as I can give… except to remind you that it is available for pre-order right now!

Today’s song choice comes from Brian G. Riesen.  Brian is actually a beta reader from back in the day.  He’s been around since before beta readers were called beta readers.  He is one of the first peeps outside of my family to read The Takers: Book One of the Oz Chronicles.  For The Closeout Kings, he thinks Muleskinner Blues by The Cramps captures the essence of The Closeout Kings.  In his words: “I hear something heavy, metal/punk, yet rednecky.”  The Closeout Kings is definitely all those things.

The Closeout Kings musical countdown, day 2

I reached out to the beta readers for The Closeout Kings and asked them what songs they thought represented the tone and themes of the Southern crime thriller.  Today’s selection comes from Scott Vaughn, and I have to admit that I had never heard of the group or the song until he brought both to my attention yesterday.  They’re awesome, and he’s dead on.  This song is a perfect fit for The Closeout Kings.  My thanks to Scott for introducing me to Backwoods Company by The Wild Feathers.

A reminder: The Closeout King’s official release is this Friday, October 24, but it is available for pre-order now.

Oops – I took another blog hiatus

Yes, I've been gone for awhile, but I had a good excuse.

Yes, I’ve been gone for awhile, but I had a good excuse.

I’m such a bad self-promoter. The fact that I write a bi-weekly blog for CreateSpace that is, in part, about self-promotion is especially unforgivable when I disappear from the blog for a couple of weeks. The good news is that it’s because I’ve been exceedingly busy. The Closeout Kings final edit is done. Release coming soon. The first draft of my stage play, Never Living, is done. I’d love to arrange either a complete or partial read just so I can see what works and what doesn’t. It all works with me acting out every part, but I’m a fantastic actor, so it’s really not a great barometer for the piece.

Another project fell into my lap shortly after my last blog entry. It’s a new adventure for me. Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. This new adventure is a non-fiction piece. You read correctly. This guy, me, writer of monsters and hillbillies, has been given an exciting opportunity to write a biography of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Lee Deckelman. I’ll have more details later, but let’s just say Lee has lead an incredibly interesting and inspiring life that I’m privileged to get to tell. For you fans of the Oz Chronicles, you should be especially interested in Lee’s story. I modeled Oz’s resilience and toughness after Lee. The cool thing is that years ago I had the opportunity to let Lee’s kids know that in a signed copy of The Takers.

This will put Book Seven on the back burner for a little while, but to make up for the delay, I’ll have a surprise announcement in a week or so, maybe sooner. So, stay tuned.

Will I be frequenting the blog more often? I hope so. I can’t make any promises because I’ve got so much to do, but I shall do my very best.

Which author photo will help me sell more books?

And now for something completely narcissistic and my least favorite part of publishing a book, THE AUTHOR PHOTO.  It was really embarrassing when I did the interview for MTSU’s student magazine, the Collage, and I couldn’t find any recent photos of me or even Mia for the article.  The ones on this blog were taken about four years ago, but they were all I had so they were forced to use them.  I’ve been actually trying to take more pictures in my real life so I’ll have something to look back on when I’m old and forgetful (which is about a year away).

That being said, The Closeout Kings will be hitting the market in the coming weeks, and I need a C. Hoyt Caldwell photo to go with the release.  I’ll post what I have below.  Let me know which one you like or if you don’t like any of the choices.  I have no preference.  Remember, I need one that will help me sell books or at the very least not drive readers away.

 

 

Option A

Option A

Option B

Option B

Option C

Option C

Option D

Option D

Option E

Option E

Option F

Option F

Option Brad Pitt

Option Brad Pitt