Monday, December 3, 2012

Giveaway and guest post with Robert Anderson author of Contrails

I started writing when I was seventeen. A little late to the party, I know, but I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer and I look back on it now as a blessing because it gave me time to get all those juvenile preoccupations out of the way before getting down to work. Twelve years on, I feel like I’m hitting my stride. Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers) claims that it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of ten thousand hours to master a craft (that’s five years of fifty forty-hour weeks for those of us, like me, who abhor math) and although I do not claim to have mastered anything, I can say that I’ve made at least a dent in this timetable. The words are coming now with less force, more grace. I just published my second novel, Contrails, and am two-thirds into its sequel.

Now Contrails had an interesting birth and it’s the topic of my sermon (just joking) today. Its conception is an example of the power of collaboration, of friendship, of the value of having people you trust to read your work. The most amazing and creative things can happen when an open environment exists to foster their growth.

Quick flashback. The year is 2010. I had just finished my first novel, The Unaccounted For. It’s an eighty-thousand word, semi-autobiographical account of my time working as an accountant in Detroit during the recession of 2008/2009. Hard times indeed. Anyway, I gave it to my best friend to read (we’ll just call him Pilot X for now). He’s read most of my short stories from the time I spent toiling in the creative writing workshops at the University of Michigan. He always gives unbiased criticism (a valued trait in a reader/friend). He’s also an airline pilot and devoured the book in three days on a cross-country trip. He loved it, I thought, judging by the short time it took him to read it. Then he told me he loved it. He said, “Bobby, I loved it.” I’m currently in the process of publishing it (but we’ll discuss that book in a future post, if I’m invited back).

But the magic took place afterwards. Somewhere along the way his right-brain began turning, subconscious burgeoning with material. Nine months later he emails me a ten- thousand word document which would ultimately become the beginning of Contrails. I was blown away. As a writer, I know firsthand the difficulty of producing ten thousand words with a unified, coherent theme. It takes time, effort—no easy feat. So I ask him, I say, “Why’d you do this?” And he says, “We’re going to do the same thing you did.” And I say, “Huh?” And he says, “I’ll give you the juicy ins-n’-outs of my job and you’re going to write it.” And I say, “I am?” And he says, “Yes.”

And there you have it, folks. Seven months later, Contrails was born. The power of collaboration, the beauty of friendship. It’s been Kirkus reviewed, is available on all the major sites. I couldn’t be more proud of my writing, his contribution, our teamwork. We all have a book inside of us, but oftentimes we become isolated, myopic, alone in our endeavors. Contrails a true example of what you can do when you open yourself up and share your story with others. Whenever I look up and spot a contrail splitting the sky now, I invariably smile, thinking of my own.

Now for the giveaway.  Robert has agreed to raffle off a print copy of his book Contrails.  This raffle is open only to residents of the continental US.  Good luck everyone.

In Anderson's debut thriller, a grounded pilot launches a new career as a drug runner. Civil Air pilot Sam Claymore can handle himself in the sky, but dealing with life on the ground is another story. Rushing to the gate for an early morning flight, the young airman can barely endure overzealous TSA agents, needy passengers and one unfortunate Starbucks barista. "This is what traveling has become: standing in line," he laments. One bright spot is flight attendant Victoria Knight, who draws Sam in with her exotic looks and "chameleon quality of being two people at once." While Sam skewers baggage fees and airport prices for bottled water, he also gives readers a convincing feel for the day-to-day life of an airline pilot. From the details of preflight inspection to FAA rules on alcohol consumption, the author shows an impressive knowledge of the job--and its potential for absurdity. Humorous episodes include a debate in the cockpit over whether aliens built the pyramids and a spot-on observation about airborne psychology: "Passengers listen to pilot announcements like religious fanatics listen to prophets, their collective fate dangling on the intrepid voice of the faceless air god."...This airline tell-all and comical crime tale is recommended in-flight reading. - Kirkus Review

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  1. It sounds cool! I entered--hope I win!

  2. I could certainly write an interesting book about my job. I work with people who have spinal cord injuries and have the dedication and heart of nobody else I've ever met!

  3. yes i was in army reserve and went to iraq so i could come up with a story about that but mine wouldnt be about fighting and stuff i was with a unit that didnt see any

  4. I would find it difficult to write about my profession. Too much information and I could do two years in jail because of HIPAA. Sounds like you have a great book.