Live tonight in Livermore, California – Luca Stricagnoli. The Italian-born guitar sensation will play four more U.S. dates in Kent, Washington (3-1), Mount Vernon, Washington, (3-2) Big Sky, Montana, (3-3), and Bozeman, Montana (3-5) before heading off to Germany, Portugal and Australia. He will be at theJune 1stFestivaldes Guitares du Monde en Abitibi-Temiscamingue, in Quebec. It begins May 25th.
I stumbled upon this ultra-talented player because of my love of South African-born Trevor Jones’ music written for “The Last of the Mohicans.” It has always been one of my favorite movie scores. The 1757 saga was based on the James Fenimore Cooper historical novel written in 1826, which I once read, but Michael Mann drew more, I learned, from the 1936 movie of the same name, then Cooper’s book. Interestingly, he found a diary of one of the French soldiers that strengthened the 1992 production.*
I also learned that in post-production, Mann scrapped Jones’ electronic score and decided he wanted a more traditional orchestral score. Jones reworked his score but didn’t have time to finish it, and Mann had to hire composer Randy Edelman to complete the music ( * from movie/fone – 17 Things You Never Knew About The Last of the Mohicans).
Anyway, Stricagnoli blew me away with his style of one-handed finger-picking on his 7-string guitar (not to mention the bow and two other guitars he utilizes). I look forward to exploring his music.Livemore is east of the San Francisco Bay area, less than 35 miles from Oakland. The Warriors are at Amway in Orlando tonight. If I were there, I’d check Luca out.
Here also is a link to Jones conducting his score. Beautiful.
Recently, I was invited to speak at an International Baccalaureate Lyceum Speaker Series at my son’s high school. The proposed topic of his English teacher, Mr. Ed Booten: “How To Craft a Novel.” Both the English and History senior and junior classes were combined for the event.
For those of you haven’t heard of it, the IB Diploma (and I borrow) is an English-medium university preparation course based on an approach to learning involving critical inquiry and is aimed at the education of the whole person. Every year more than 130,000 young people at schools all over the world take the IB Diploma examinations.
In other words, these are sharp kids – on the ball.
Mr. Booten had read my second novel, The Lost Lantern, and enjoyed it enough to request my insights, which I very much appreciated. I will say, as an independent writer with my last book in its second year of release (available on Amazon.com along with my first, The Long Shadow of Hope), speaking opportunities are few and far between.
I prepared my remarks to include my background (and knowing how a high schooler will cringe at a 500-word assignment): as a former sportswriter required a minimum of 500 bylines a year (my totals were more like 700) I was cranking out at least 400,000 words a year. An average novel is 70,000 to 120,000 words. Thus, a work of such length was attainable in my mind. The Lost Lantern has 143,000, or 505 pages.
I hit the usual topics: Write What you know; Point of View/pros and cons of First Person versus Third Person omniscient; Genre; Plot; Character Development; Tone; Choosing a Title.
I did have to contradict myself – and this is the beauty of the imagination and the fun of writing – because my next novel is about a sexual-serial killer within a gated community on a southern coastal island, and the female police detective who goes undercover to try and catch him. I promise, what I know most of these three topics is the island.
And it is from this contradiction that many of their insightful questions emerged. We laughed as I paced back and forth coming up with answers about creating literary monsters, men willing to go a little further in their crimes and deception then they had previously, the aftermath causing mayhem.
I will say now, one young lady got me. These students in addition to spirited novels are assigned interpretive books such as How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Her question was on my style of writing. I had (at least in that moment) completely forgotten about the four types of writing so often brought up in college courses: Expository, Descriptive, Persuasive, and Narrative, and went on to her about how my style was dialogue-driven, conversational, and that I used my dialogue to create tension. That’s all true, but I completely whiffed on her question. While some authors’ novels might be considered Descriptive in style, most novels – my novels – are written in the Narrative style.
But style goes much deeper than the above literary categories. Writing to your audience is always the key. J.K. Rowling doesn’t write like Ernest Hemingway, nor should she. Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory (or theory of omission) strips stories to their bare bones, leaving the reader to interpret his meaning. The voice of Hunter S. Thompson will never be found in a John Grisham tale. Pat Conroy and Cormac McCarthy are in another stratosphere, but hardly similar, nor did they ever mass-produce in a Pattersonesque fury. My goal is for my murder-suspense novels to become page-turners with a surprising twist or two. I don’t use my thesaurus to find big words to enhance my meaning or bog down the reader, nor do I enjoy reading with a dictionary by my side. That’s my style, and for now I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading, A.S. (Photo courtesy of Ed Booten)
In my childhood, Kim Bannister was the friend of my big sister Kelly that was frequently over on the weekend to spend the night. The friend that, with deceptively great strength, would wrestle me to the floor and pin me, laughing as she did it. The friend that made me, as a skinny 11-year-old, realize that girls existed, and that they were good.
Flash forward eight years. After freshman year of college, one of my best friends, Pat Austin and I, followed the lead of Kelly and Kim and my future brother-in-law, Chip Simmons, and migrated to the Murrells Inlet (work), Garden City (live), Myrtle Beach (play) area for the first of three summers. It was 1983. In ‘84, we had six young men making the southern trek to a house in Surfside: Pat, Paul Larkin, Joe Matheny, Joe Henderson, and Andy Carroll. A good time was had by all.
Kim, like a number of my friends, never left the beach. She became Kim Lipton. She remained pals with my sister and took the (above) picture of Kelly and her daughter, Chloe, in Charlotte, NC, in 1992. Flash forward another eight years. Kelly was tragically taken from us due to breast cancer. Kim is a breast cancer survivor. I feel a sibling-like bond with her.
My second novel, The Lost Lantern (suspense – available on Amazon.com), a book ultimately about racial harmony, also encapsulates life as we knew it in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach in the late 1980s. I thanked Kim in the Acknowledgements as I did a number of friends who touched my life, including all of the boys, Paul and Carter Elliott (pictured below). Kim wrote this review about the book:
In the 80’s Everyone knew each other in the Murrells Inlet area. Not like that now. I loved the book! Andy’s description of Murrells Inlet Garden City area in the 80s with straight on. I live in this area and it was a blast working in the restaurants going out at night being young. This book brought up a lot of wonderful memories. Thank you Andy for this book it was a joy to read. Kim. July 16, 2018.
Thanks to new friend Bernie Delgado, I returned to Murrells Inlet, a couple of weekends ago and visited the Historic Downtown Murrells Inlet Block Party and out of Bernie’s shop, MISC: Everything Murrells Inlet, sold some books, met and talked with many wonderful people including Bernie’s significant-other Brian, a WVU grad and a super-nice person. The memories of being in and around Murrells Inlet were so thick I felt I could reach out and touch them: Bounding across quiet Highway 17, feeling that breeze off the Atlantic, playing the guitar and listening to others at the Tree Top Lounge after work, and before heading to the next friendly place.
I even ran into a fellow-wait staffer from The Ghost Ship – Sissy (above left). It had only been 34 years! I finished off a busy day visiting Out Back at Frank’s, in Pawleys Island, with Carter Elliott (middle), of Georgetown, SC, and Paul Larkin (right), of Surfside, SC. Great friends.
I also wanted to include this shot I took of Murrells Inlet at sunset, from the lot at The Tuna Shack.
I will definitely be back next year for the Block Party, hopefully with my third novel, A Most Beautiful Trigger, in tow.
Bernie shop, 4493 Highway 17, Murrells Inlet, is filled with the creations of art and home furnishings of over seventy local artists. Don’t forget, Christmas is just around the corner! Thanks for reading, A.S.
I am not a LeBron James basher. He is one of the greatest athletes and basketball players of all time. He has made a bad decision or two, but who hasn’t. And, he is a giver – to the tune of well over $40 million. Probably twice that.
As dawn came in the east, sports fans learned that James last night surpassed Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (31,419). Wilt had been surpassed by four others: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and (No. 1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron will likely surpass them all.
I watched the first half, in which he was 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point line. And I have seen the highlights – he did it in amazing fashion – needed 39, scored a season-high 44. More importantly the Lakers have won 4-straight.
Comparing Wilt and LeBron is, of course, apples to oranges. I just want to point out a fact or two.
In Wilt’s day, you weren’t allowed to play in the NBA until the college class you entered with had graduated. Wilt, frustrated by being ganged up on by entire teams, played what would have been his senior year at Kansas with the Harlem Globetrotters.
In those first four years of LeBron’s career, in the NBA, straight out of high school, he scored 8,439 points. Surprisingly, in LeBron’s fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth years, at age (approximately) 22-26, he scored 8,923 points. Only 484 more points in what should have been the prime of his life.
Wilt in those years (age 22-26), keeping in mind that one was his rookie season, scored 13,355 points, including, in his third season, his 50 points-per-game.
Is it fair to say that Wilt would have scored 10,000 points from 18 to 22 years of age had he been in the NBA? I think it’s a safe bet.
Hard to believe, but LeBron is already in his 16th NBA season. He is quite durable and has never suffered a major injury. Wilt played only 14 seasons, in my estimation walking away much like Jim Brown did, with a few good years still ahead of him. In one of those seasons (69-70), Wilt played in only 12 games due to a knee injury.
Here’s a few fun facts about Wilt’s career. In 61-62, when he averaged 50.4 points per game, he had 45 games in which he scored over 50 points, including his 100. Never wanting to come out of a game, he actually averaged 48.5 minutes per game (an NBA game is 48 minutes). Wilt averaged in that season over a point a minute (1.037) per game. Never matched. The year after Wilt changed his game to help Philly get past Boston and win the NBA title over San Francisco, he led the league in assists per game, at 8.6, the only time a center has led (he averaged 7.8 assists, 24 points, and 24 rebounds the title year – 67). In his last two years with the Lakers, including his second title in ’72, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich handled much of the scoring. Wilt still scored 19.2 points and 18.6 rebounds per game, starting a wicked fast break, again unheard of numbers today. Wilt’s field goal percentage his final season? .727.
Yes, players over 7-foot were rare in the 60’s. But Wilt was an athlete. Before he gave up track and field, he high jumped 6-foot-6, ran a 49 flat 440, 1:58.3 880, long jumped 22-feet and put the shot 53-4. He played volleyball during and after his pro ball career. Could Wilt have played the “stretch-4” position like today’s big men? I believe he could have if it were asked of him. Despite his free throw woes, he had a soft touch on his turnaround and fade away jumpers. He could have developed a 3-point shot had he wanted to – and had there been one. Of LeBron’s 11,419 field goals, 1,645 have been 3-pointers. Wilt made 12,681 – the hard way.
Lastly, as once the first and now the sixth-leading scorer of all time, Wilt’s 14 seasons were the fewest of the other five. Kobe was the only other straight out of high school and played 20 seasons. Kareem, after four years at UCLA, played 21 seasons. Karl played 19 after three at Louisiana Tech, Jordan 15 after three at North Carolina.
So, yes, I’m a Wilt fan (See Postscript below). I don’t begrudge LaBron or those who will surpass his milestones. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.
P.S. On being a Wilt fan: One beach trip when there was an excessive amount of seaweed washed up on shore, my kids and I didn’t build a sandcastle, we built Wilt. LOL. Thanks for reading.
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
A great book stays with you. It grips you as you read. Compels you to push on. It re-enters your consciousness and your thoughts over and over as you go about your life. You long to go back to it. You know the characters. You like, love, or loath them.
This is what I am striving for as a writer. My second novel, The Lost Lantern (suspense – available on Amazon.com), a book ultimately about racial harmony, takes place in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach in the late 1980s. The Long Shadow of Hope, my first book, is a tale about what can go wrong when greed, lust, and deception are put on the front burners. The setting? A college football program – Lookout Mountain State University in Tennessee!
I will be visiting MISC: Everything Murrells Inlet, this Saturday, Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., selling and signing some books, maybe singing some songs, and enjoying the Historic Downtown Murrells Inlet Block Party!
Bernie Delgado’s shop, 4493 Highway 17, Murrells Inlet , is filled with the creations and home furnishings of over seventy local artists. Don’t forget, Christmas is just around the corner! Hope to see you there!
The preface of a possible first-person sequel to my actual second book, The Lost Lantern, though my third novel will be available much sooner. Thanks for reading, A.S.
I don’t exactly recall when I decided that making money was unimportant. It wasn’t a conscience decision. If you watched my wedding video, the event nine months into my gig as a low-paid sportswriter, you’d see I actually snickered when I repeated the line “For richer or poorer.” It drew some laughs from the crowd. But believe me, at that time I had no intention of doing what I have done.
I went along with the newspaper game because it was fairly high-profile for my medium-market, Carolina world. My beat was a little-brother university bull-rushing its way into bowl contention with highlight-reel future NFL-ers. My publishers were willing to catch me up to a living wage once I proved I was worthy of their paycheck. But this was in the mid-1990s. Ever since Gutenberg slapped a sentence together newspapers have been consolidating and shutting down at an alarming rate. The movement was crescendoing through the ’80s and into the ’90s and the internet, email, websites, and blogs only made it worse. Gutenberg would probably flip a letter tray or two if he observed the ease in which we now share information and print.
The only intelligent notion I ever had was to marry my wife, Katy. I knew she was going to be a rock star. Beautiful and brilliant, she skipped over ladder rungs like a dog after a squirrel’s tail. About the time my newspaper was purchased and we writing rats were told we’d soon have no jobs – albeit illegally, we later learned – she was holding down management positions in the green pastures of pharmaceutics and medical equipment.
I somehow landed on my feet, wooing a college president and multiple panels of interviewers, successfully jumping the fence into media relations. I became the pitchman, the occasional spokesperson, the principle writer of the alumni magazine, the advertising buyer, the events coordinator, the Speaker Series planner and talent booker, the photographer, and, like Gutenberg, the print shop manager, which alone would have been a full-time job.
For a couple of weeks the president took me around town like his new pet. I met influential members of his Board of Directors, money-men with vision. But soon I was just like all the other poor schleps that worked there. The big man didn’t care who stayed or went. I know, because I also wrote the classifieds and placed the national ads. His lone concern was donors and his pleasantries extended only to a tight circle of cabinet members.
As the economy tanked and colleagues moved on, additional duties were heaped on me like pallets on a bonfire. I wore more hats than that kid on “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” Katy knew better than me that I was miserable. We had three children now (you may have guessed by the movie reference), the youngest of whom was about to start half-day pre-school. Katy was on the road three weeks out of four, pulling in mega bucks. And, I had an ace in the hole: my first novel was under contract. Like a rube jumping out of an airplane wearing a potentially-defective parachute, I signed my resignation, gave a month’s notice, and walked away. My name is John Gates, and my world is about to get weird.
Maybe building readership is like laying the foundation of a house, one cinderblock at a time. Can’t do two, it cannot be done.
Last night I gave a copy of The Lost Lantern to one of my best friends. It will be heading to Oak Island, North Carolina. Our waitress inquired.
“It’s a book about racial harmony and overcoming some serious racism.”
She ordered a copy by phone before we left. Tip got bigger.
The night before, the new fiancé of an old teammate of mine told me she was ordering both The Lost Lantern and The Long Shadow of Hope for him. They are moving to Savannah, Ga., in the fall.
“Oh, my next book takes place on Hilton Head Island with Savannah as the secondary city.”
Coincidence or karma?
The night before that, a new Garden City, South Carolina, resident posted pictures of the moon over the Atlantic from her balcony. Another good friend said you should pick up a copy of The Lost Lantern from Bernie Delgado’s Miscellaneous: All Things Murrells Inlet. The book takes place right there at the beach.
A copy is in the hands of a National Guardsman heading northeast to Camp Dawson, on the Cheat River, in Kingwood, West Virginia. It’s also being read by a sought-after medical malpractice attorney who travels extensively. Will either bear additional fruit?
A few weeks ago I told the technician at my Optometrists’ – who I knew to be a reader – about my books. She became the 20th reviewer of The Lost Lantern! Yes, Stephen King is pushing 9,500 for Doctor Sleep: A Novel. But I’ll bet I appreciate – and am humbled by – my 20 more, as I do each and every sale. Vacation-season has increased sales, and if you’re heading to the beach or a national park next month or in August there’s plenty of time to order and receive delivery from Amazon.com as we approach the year anniversary of The Lost Lantern’s release! Thanks to Bruce Moss, Lynn McGraw, Bertha Watson, and Renee Simms for reviews 17 through 20!
I definitely recommend this book! The author has a flair for telling a story, and weaving several plot lines through each other without them getting lost and confused, then tying it all back in. His rich use of vocabulary keeps the reader engaged and helps to draw mental images. We will see this author an best-selling lists soon!
and now as a author of great depth and creativity February 25, 2018
Bruce E. Moss says: February 9, 2018 at 4:04 pm Edit It has been my privilege to watch Andy Spradling grow and mature from grade school to today. I have watched him as an student, an athletic, a sports reporter, a restaurateur, a parent, and now as a author of great depth and creativity. I appreciate his research that gives his story such depth and credence. He truly knows has to cast the spell, draw you in, and keep you on your mental toes as you follow the events of his story line. He is truly a gifted writer. I look forward to many more of his most entertaining works and to him be recognized for his remarkable talent.