A New Literary Star Is Born

Sam Hindman

 A literary review by Sam Hindman carries with it a great deal of weight. Hindman rose to the highest levels of professional journalism as the Publisher of the Charleston Daily Mail, with Thomson Newspapers, and with Reuters. Sam gave me my first job at the Daily Mail in 1983, and he and his wife, Iris, remain two of my favorite people. Die-hard West Virginia Mountaineer fans, their devotion to family is unmatched as they help nurture and support their teen-aged grandchildren. Thank you Sam, thank you brother Tom Hindman for use of the photo, and thank you for reading. A.S.

 A New Literary Star Is Born February 8, 2019

Lantern ThumbAs I dove deeper into this captivating tale, The Lost Lantern, I found its words, character development and stories within the story so compelling that this novel sent a clear message. A new literary star is born. This tale, positioned in and around Myrtle Beach, is a setting known so well to many and brings similar visions to other beach lovers. With the turning of each page, this author’s words sprang to life. The intrigue woven into a time when the south was less than hospitable to all races causes memories and visions from each reader’s past to play like a movie of the harsher times when racial discrimination plagued Murrells Inlet, yet was rejected by many as this tale so vividly portrayed.

Author Andy Spradling has earned a look by the big publishing houses and those that would need a script for their next movie. It is here in The Lost Lantern. This story rivals those found in many works by John Grisham. Andy’s character development, from the indomitable William McMillian. His ambition, interplay with a racist Danny Rivers, his equally vile brothers and the help of friend John Gates, a family minister and his mother’s church is as satisfying to your literary hunger as would be a good meal served by Mr. Spradling and many of characters who once toiled in those 1980s restaurants, and then danced the night away.

This novel depicts Horry County for what it was and what it wasn’t in those days, while numerous other plots run parallel to the struggles by William McMillian and his friends. Indeed all the twists, evil or otherwise, are well developed while you continue to envision the resourcefulness behind McMillian, Gates , and others. . Without lessening the true joy that comes from embracing this strong read of good over evil, it is time to ask for more…more recognition for Andy Spradling’s literary talents and more from his fertile imagination.

5-stars

Purchase The Lost Lantern on Amazon.com at: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Lantern-Andrew-Spradling/dp/1548476250

© 2019

A Question of Style

SCHS Talk 2.jpgRecently, 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) 

© – 2019  

 

 

The Push Towards 20

Baldacci

Still both happy and humbled to be selling some books and receiving reviews, especially when a comparison like the one below comes in from a reader! Sometimes it seems hopeless that an “Independent” can build an audience, but these kind words motivate me to keep writing and get my next title out there. Thank you Mary and Dale, reviews 15 and 16 for The Lost Lantern.

Thanks for reading, A.S.

Andrew Spradling’s The Lost Lantern was A GREAT READ!

By Mary M. Robertson on January 30, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition

 

Andrew Spradling’s The Lost Lantern was A GREAT READ! This book read very similar to the style of David Baldacci’s books— intriguing, a page turner, and kept you interested in what was to come next! Looking forward to reading more from Andrew Spradling!

5-stars

“I don’t usually like prologues but

ByDale Withrowon January 5, 2018

Format: Paperback

This was my first read of Andrew Spradling and I am looking forward to reading his first book “The Long Shadow of Hope.” I don’t usually like prologues but, in the Lost Lantern, the prologue hooked me and fueled my curiosity to the point that I could not turn the pages fast enough to bring the story back to that point and time. I thoroughly enjoyed the story line of the book. Ironically, I read most of the book while in the Murrell’s Inlet area and that added to the already vivid picture that Andrew constructs with his detail and background of the band of characters. I did feel that it was overly detailed in some areas but, as you follow the main characters through the story, you begin to feel that you have known them through most of their lives. You will learn to like this diverse group as they return to Murrell’s Inlet attempting to recapture some of their past lives and find directions for their future. You will feel respect and admiration for the camaraderie and support they demonstrate for the friends they made in the summers spent there. At the same time, you will come to hate and despise the locals involved because of their prejudices, deceit, and greed as they try to take advantage of a young man who has worked loyally and diligently for them in their restaurants as well as for his own family. This is a long read but, it is well worth the time.

4-stars

 

© 2018

 

 

Friends Old and New Give “Hope” a Bump

You just never know where your next bump is coming from. My first novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, experienced a bit of a resurrection when The Lost Lantern was released in July. Let me clarify. I’m talking about going from a drip to a trickle, though it has sold more consistently in the last few weeks. And yet, I hadn’t received any new reviews on Hope in at least six or eight months, maybe more.

Shadow Copy thumbnail I realize that writing a review – going to the Amazon or Goodreads site – is new for some and can be uncomfortable. You’re putting your opinion, your thoughts, out there, sometimes with your name attached. There is also the tightrope of honesty versus appeasing/not upsetting the author. As one of my lifelong friends put it, “I don’t want to be THAT guy,” (accentuating the negative).  I also realize it’s an additional time commitment, after the reader has generously given hours of their lives to the author.

I’ve been blessed to know the sweet and amiable Dawn Snyder for going on 40 years – school buds, mutual work friends, overlapping non-traditional college experiences, and ongoing Lantern Thumbsmall-town life. I’ve known Jeremy Fallecker for less than three, he’s a young man not even close to pushing 40 years old. He carried The Long Shadow of Hope with him to Kuwait, honorably serving our country with the Air National Guard. His codename on top of the list is “Bandit.” ( I hope that’s not a security breach!)

Both friends took time this week to write informative, thoughtful reviews, and that means the world to an “Indie” writer like me. If you care to take a peek, click on this link: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/community  I also want to again thank two former SAHS English teachers, Cathy McClanahan and Carla Williamson, along with our close neighbor at my parents’ home of untold years, Gayle Michael, for their recent reviews of The Lost Lantern.

Thanks, in fact, to everyone who has read or purchased my books. I’m going to try to keep this circus rolling, while writing novel number three. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas, A.S.

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

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Just over 30 hours remain to enter to win a free copy of my new novel, The Lost Lantern. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Sunday, tomorrow, December 3. It’s easy to do.

Just click on this link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/9de9b7bc52e07df5

 Lantern ThumbIf you win it will be delivered to your door.  If you’re not a reader, give it to one on your Christmas list. Your odds of winning are quite high. If you’re doubting its worth, read reviews on my Amazon author page: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/community

Good Luck, thanks, and Merry Christmas! A.S.

Pictured above, Coal River at Twilight from the Hayes Bridge.

 

 

 

 

© 2017

The Lost Lantern Sweepstakes

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Do you have a favorite book? A top five or ten list?

Have you read a book where you imagined the author opened a vein and bled for you? A book where there was so much hurt you felt it, followed by joy and elation, then more disappointment, followed by intrigue, and perhaps happiness? A book where the characters you’ve visualized stay in your mind and return to you later? You lived the tension they experienced, and felt empathy, anger, or disgust?

Transferring feelings to readers from the written page is the goal of any author, and certainly is for me. My most recent Lantern Thumbrelease came from deep within, I assure you. It is a tale with much raw emotion.

For the next week you can enter to win a paperback copy of my new book, The Lost Lantern. Please follow this link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/9de9b7bc52e07df5

If you win, it will be shipped to your door. If you don’t win, please consider reading both my books, which are also available electronically on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com.

Good luck and as always, thank you for reading. A.S.

Shadow Copy thumbnail

 

P.S.  I would enjoy reading what book means the most to YOU. My favorite is For Whom The Bell Tolls.

© 2017

Back To The Beach

Lantern ThumbAuthor’s note: Fellow author Lance Carney’s 5-star review of The Lost Lantern on both Amazon.com and Goodreads.com came at just the right time. Less than 10 weeks after its release, reinforcing commentary goes a long way towards continuing momentum and spreading the good word.

Incidentally, Carney’s humorous first novel, Ripped Tide, is among just three other finalists for the 2017 McGrath House Indie Book Awards in the humor/comedy category. You can vote (by Oct. 31) for Lance’s book at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7wJh5GcE90bHjJoK-y_QxUtahp7teTSBrcpxWVIBzj-i0qA/viewform

This was “Lantern’s” 11th review (4.7-rating thus far). Thanks again to Lance and to those who took me from five to 10: Pat Paxton, Sandra Rohr, Sissy Offutt, Robert (unknown), and Carla VanWyck. I appreciate you all!
Back to the Beach for a Story of Racism, Greed, Betrayal, Bribery and Murder

     It’s “back to the beach” but not for a fun romp in the sand. This return to Sun Fun City and the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a blend of racism, greed, betrayal, bribery and murder, including a connected, unsolved murder from years before. John Gates doesn’t see that in his future—he is just trying for a new start on life and to reunite with three friends, all who traveled there six years earlier to work the restaurants of Murrells Inlet during college summers. Along the way, John bumps into William McMillian, an African American he worked with at Captain Dan’s for a couple of summers. William has always wanted to start his own restaurant, The Lost Lantern, and thinks his boss, Danny Rivers and his brothers are helping him when they take his down payment on a property with a rundown restaurant. John Gates and his friends pull out all the stops to try and help William realize his dream while the Rivers’ brothers on the other side will stop at nothing to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The Lost Lantern takes readers back to the 1980s when Myrtle Beach was coming of age with second and third generation tourists. It’s also a sampling of the author’s personal experiences working the seafood hot spots of Murrells Inlet. As in his excellent first book, The Long Shadow of Hope, Andy Spradling once again serves up what he knows best. As a former restaurant owner, his insight into the restaurant business adds authenticity to the story. The restaurants, bars and businesses of Myrtle Beach at the time also lend a nostalgic backdrop to the tale (one scene takes place at the popular watering hole, The Afterdeck, long before it became a strip club). The characters are vivid, complex and flawed, even the good guys, so you can’t help but fall into the story, and there are enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. I highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

The Grade Savior

Author’s note: Mr. Tom Morgan, center, and a former star-student Loretta (Franciose) Goolbsy last month at the Art Walk, in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. Mr. Morgan taught English Composition for the college bound at our high school, and I never learned more in a class. He was an inspiration and 35 years later I was proud to be able to hand him my second novel. Thanks for reading! A.S.

 

In a town that was booming from a chemical craze,

A time not forgotten, but most certainly changed,

The vitality caused by the brilliance of many,

Their children raised with expectations a’plenty.

 

Inside walls that held so many young minds,

Was a wizard of sorts, who gave sight to the blind.

The tool that he used was his Grade Saver Sheet,

From a standpoint of learning it couldn’t be beat.

 

Prepositions, slang, expressions deemed trite,

The comma, if questioned, must take a quick hike.

If you naively asked how to spell a tough word,

D-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-R-Y was what you heard.

 

Compositions completed was just half the fight,

Cause a pronoun misused dropped your “A” out of sight.

“Express, not impress,” his writing decree,

Two spliced indie clauses a comma fait accompli.

 

“A lot” was a place and if it made your paper,

A great deal of anguish was soon to come later.

If you shifted a tense, or let a sentence run on,

Used You and Your pronouns, you best just be gone.

 

You could take those themes on with you to college,

’Cause the 101-ers you met didn’t have your knowledge.

Just correct, re-write and turn them on in,

With the time that you saved you could go for a spin.

 

If you look back with less than a smile you ain’t tryin’,

And if you say you learned little I just ain’t a-buyin’,

And if “ain’t” was uttered, he would show no restraint,

Tom Morgan, by God, would express his complaint.

 

© 2017

 

For The Love Of Books

Since my last post, shamelessly, with tongue-in-cheek connecting my new novel, The Lost Lantern, with Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle (oops, I did it again), I played around with some numbers. If Jeannette’s sales were created in the 261 weeks it was on the NY Times Bestseller List, the per week amount of books sold is 10,344. If it were over the 12 years since the book’s release the number is 4,326 sold a week. Dan Brown sold 27 million copies of the Da Vinci Code. Over 14 years that’s 37,087 a week. Can you imagine the elation either must have been feeling?

Lantern Thumb I’ve been at this independent publishing for less than 16 months.  I get excited each and every time I sell a book. In one of the above scenarios I probably would stroke out from happiness.  But it’s an uphill battle. Even Amazon, which makes most of the money, chooses not to promote independents. The cost-free electronic version? We indies still get bumped by the Pattersons, Sparks, and Grishams. There’s a big ol’ bank of money each month from subscribers at Kindle Unlimited, but writers like me will never see any of it. I believe both my novels are entertaining departures, yet how does one get them in front of the masses?

Still, I’m feeling blessed and extremely grateful. Today marks one month since we released “The Lost Lantern,” and I can’t help but feel optimistic. Without the benefit of a big-budget publisher, pre-publicity, or industry reviews, we have sold 90 copies in 30 days, with five reviews, on Amazon.com. I received great news from Terri Dingess Baloga, a fellow St. Albans (WV) High grad now residing in North Carolina, who chose “The Lost Lantern” for her book club to read next month! This is exactly what an independent writer like me needs – word of mouth among READERS in other states… in other countries. I need to offer thanks to Tom Hindman, Ray Epperly, Ross Harrison, (now deployed) Jeremy Ranson, and Becky Goodwin for their honest reviews, with expectations for more soon from Bob Carpenter, Lance Carney, and Carla Williamson. If reviews add the validity buyers need, I’ll scratch and claw for all I can get. Thanks for reading!  

Lessons Learned from Castle Walls

For me, Jeannette Walls’ blockbuster “The Glass Castle” provided inspiration both as a reader and as a writer. It confirmed to me that, even as a scribe of fiction, you must lay bare your soul. You must… leave a little blood on your pages.

As a coordinator of speakers’ events in my last position I was fortunate to meet Jeannette Walls behind the scenes. It was December of 2007, and as Director of University Relations I was the person responsible for getting Ms. Walls from one venue to the next, which included, after her speech, dinner in the President’s “tower of power” as I liked to call it. She even stayed in a campus guest apartment rather than across the river in a posh hotel.

Jennette Walls and AS cpd.jpg

Because I’d loved her book and because I was each day in the early a.m. before my commute pecking away at my first novel – a fact I did not disclose – I was especially stoked about her being on campus. She was, unlike some speakers who had preceded her with only dollar signs reflecting off their cold eyes, gracious, humble, enthusiastic, generous with her time, in great humor, and receptive to hospitality. After all, part of her now famous childhood was spent just two hours “down the road.” Despite her acquired Manhattan pedigree, she projected a down-home-girl-who’d-made-it-big image. She was beloved by her audience that evening.

Because of the movie’s release (I give it 4 out of 5 thumbs up), Jeannette Walls has been thrust into the spotlight again. I like what she wrote for a Los Angeles Times piece on August 10.

“Brie Larson captured so many of the other things that I did — and do — some of them not entirely appealing, most important, the way that I had tried so hard to cut myself off from my past, to feel nothing. The portrait isn’t always flattering, but it’s accurate. And to be understood is so much more important than being flattered.”

Jeannette Walls has sold over 2.7 million copies of her memoir and it spent 261 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. That’s over five years. The film rights – a writer’s true bonanza – have been sold at least twice.

She and I have two common traits: we’re both from West Virginia and our books both have 4.5 star ratings on Amazon.com. The rub? The Glass Castle has 6,133 reviews, The Lost Lantern has (in three weeks) but three. My first novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, has a near 5-star rating, 23 reviews in a little over a year, though the second title has renewed interest in the first. John Milton may or may not have known the struggles of the Independent writer when he wrote, “Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light…”

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Both titles available in paperback and electronically on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com.

© 2017