Saturday, March 23, 2013

The League of WWI Aviation Historians and a few days researching murder

A Nieuport used in the film Flyboys

Last weekend was a research and writer’s weekend for me.  I started out Friday and Saturday at the annual meeting of the League of WWI Aviation Historians.  Our local chapter meets at the Smithsonian throughout the year and this was my first time going to the full national meeting.  Better yet, I was asked to be the first speaker on the subject of my new book, Bert Hall (The Bad Boy – Fonthill Media). 

Now I was in the room with guys that I considered legends in WWI historical writing and research.  Alan Toole was there, as was Jon Guttman, Russell Smith, and Greg Vanwyngarde and others.  I know Jon pretty well but I have never met the other members face-to-face.  Carl Bobrow did a presentation on the technological advancements and I was impressed with the format of his presentation almost as much as the material.  This wasn’t just lectures – we had films (the first full viewing of A Romance of the Air in 90 years) and exhibits. 

What a great bunch of guys.  Oh sure, the discussions could get a little geeky – let’s face it, we’re historians.  At the same time everyone was very warm and welcoming.  If you’ve ever considered going to one of these events, I strongly encourage you to. I made some new friends who are already corresponding with me.  

When I was encouraged by a member to join the League I was hesitant.  I believe it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. 

We had some world-class presentations.  I have to admit, I enjoyed Russell Smith’s discussions on how he does his paintings on WWI aircraft and personnel.  I can barely draw a stick-person, but Smith’s works put you right there – at that time.  His process as a painter is deep and highly structured.  I found there was a lot of common ground with how I approach writing. 

Russell Smith's Discussion

We got to visit Flights of Fantasy and see Kermit Week’s collection of antique aircraft.  I felt like we had rock-star access to the aircraft and it was a special treat to see Kermit fly his P-51 Mustang for us. 

Up close and personal with an Albatros

After that I headed to Michigan to visit my mother and to do the final tid-bits of research on the Daisy Zick book.  I got to meet with one of the few surviving investigators on the case, a former State Trooper, who talked to me for two hours about his experiences and memories of the case.   I swung by Willard Library and ran into Mary Butler from the Battle Creek Historical Society and George Livingston from the local history section of the library.  I culled the library computers for the last few nuggets of information I was looking for. 

Then I returned to home and my day job.  After a few days reliving WWI aerial battles and working on an open murder case, I have to admit – the day job seemed a little boring.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Busy Year Ahead

My wife Cyndi lovingly refers to my office as, “The Factory” at night.  That is exactly what it is – a writing factory.  This year is already a big year for me as an author and it is going to only get bigger.  I thought I would share with you what is coming. 

Already out, The Bad Boy, Bert Hall, Aviator and Mercenary of the Skies, (Fonthill Media).  Let’s face it, Bert Hall is a neat character and tackling his story, as well as that of the Lafayette Escadrille, was a true challenge.  I’m pretty proud of this book because of the complexities of getting Bert’s story straight.  As a historian, Bert is one of the ultimate challenges.

I am just wrapping up work on A Special Kind of Evil.  This is the story of the murder of Daisy Zick in Battle Creek Michigan back in 1963.  This 50 year old crime remains unsolved and this book will reveal, for the first time, the depth of the investigation as well as the persons of interest.  Because the crime is unsolved, readers will be left to form their own opinions as to who committed the crime.   As of this week a major publisher has expressed an interest in this book.  More on this to follow. 

Coming any time now is Business Rules: The Cynics Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  This is a very special pet project for me – a return to writing business leadership books.  My book Cubicle Warfare was a bestseller and landed me on shows like Bill O’Reilly’s, MSNBC, CBS and others.  I was even interviewed by Fast Company magazine.  This book is a snarky, fun, yet stunningly serious guidebook to how work gets done.  This book is a departure for me, because I’m going to be publishing it via Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon’s print on demand solution. 

I’m going to be writing the first book of a Steampunk trilogy – Confederacy of the Damned.  The first few chapters are done but I hope to see this book out this summer.

I will be going to Scotland this June to do research on a book I’ve sold to Fonthill Media on Sawney Bean, the legendary Scottish cannibal.  I love writing true crime and covering a mythic tale of highwaymen, cannibals, incest, and murder is far too tempting to pass up. 

Coming this autumn – The Fires of October, (Fonthill Media) This is my book on the planned invasion of Cuba (Operation Scabbards) during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The missile crisis is one of the most studied aspects of the Cold War.  This book breaks new ground, with first-time published research on the air, sea, and land campaign that was planned to overthrow Castro and “liberate” Cuba.  The book will release in the UK in June with an estimated August release in the US. 

And this fall, I have another novel planned (a contemporary thriller called Good Old Boys) and another military history project on deck for the late autumn.  I even have another business book done in draft – I simply have to find the time to fit it in with all of this other stuff.  I'm also doing some fiction writing for Leviathans, the awesome steampunk flying battleship game from Catalyst Games.  

I would tell you more, but I’m needed here on the factory floor.  Gotta fly!