All I have to do is mention to my oldest son Don and his wife Earlene that I need something or have read something or want something and a package arrives at my front door. The last time this happened two huge boxes of books arrived.
Inside were dozens of novels from two of my favorite authors, James Patterson and Sue Grafton. Both write mysteries; however, both use entirely different styles then this author, yours truly. This is what makes reading so much fun. Wouldn’t it be boring if every author wrote with the same manner? I remember vividly what it felt like getting a phone call from the publisher of Avalon Books, hearing they were going to actually publish my first novel.
Pure astonishment. They were the first and only publishing house to whom I’d sent my manuscript, and my answer came only two weeks after it’d been mailed. So now I believed that everything I wrote would go down in history and be part of a really wonderful, lucrative career. Yeah, sure, it wasn’t the way it was, but nonetheless I’m still happy my first novel found it’s way into the Nevada writers’ section of our local library.
An article, written in the Reno Gazette Journal about my book, soon followed. Then, Western Nevada College asked me to come and talk to their writing class. One member of the class mentioned how much he enjoyed one particular phrase that I also favored. In Chapter 10 I’d written the following. “Autumn had not yet arrived. The heat of summer held tightly to the early part of September. “ There are others.
My favorite phrase was at the very beginning of Chapter one. “The wind was rising again. Agatha watched a dust devil twisting in the air as it skimmed across the ground. It picked up a brittle tumbleweed and discarded it beside an old tombstone, its inscription all but obliterated with age.” Interestingly, the books written by Sue Grafton follow the alphabet. Sue writes a book a year, according to her publisher.
Each year I look forward to the next letter book. Ms Grafton’s novels usually don’t exceed 300 pages, my preferred length for any novel. However, her last one that I read went almost double the pages. I was disappointed and almost got weary with the whole thing. It was as if she had written two stories, then incorporated them into one book. Sue writes about a woman named Kinsey Millhone who makes her living as a private investigator.
Grafton’s heroine lives in a converted garage she rents from an older retired gentleman, a former baker, who lives next door with his family and the local restaurant owner, a Hungarian cook whose food is terrible. The locals frequent this establishment anyway. This adds a lot of color to her stories. Now regarding author James Patterson. Who can argue with the success this man has made of his novels, especially those stories that feature Alex Cross?
Patterson’s the author whose books, for example “Kiss The Girls” — and other of his novels — have been made into very successful movies. I make it to our TV each and every time one of his stories hits the airwaves. Unlike Patterson, please pity poor me, I’ve been unsuccessful in getting any of the other stories I’ve written published. My favorite, and I believe my best, is about our local Ragtown Station.
For those who don’t know where Ragtown Station is, it’s where the Carson River crosses Pioneer Way near Highway 50, not far from Leeteville Junction. History was made there, and I was upset when the new owners painted over the sign calling attention to this very important part of Fallon’s history. Back in the day pioneers would stop at Ragtown, go to the river and wash their clothes, then hang them on the bushes to dry; hence the name.
My story about Ragtown is a mystery with intrigue and scenes in other locations like Dayton, Carson City and Virginia City where even more local history happened. My hero’s been accused of a murder he didn’t commit. The story tells how he runs away to save his life and to find the proof of the true culprit’s identity. I think, since I’ve pulled out a copy or two of “Ragtown Station” I’ll try sending it out to publishers again.
You never can tell what can happen in life, just think what happened way back when I sent out “Tombstones and Tumbleweed.”
Edna VanLeuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.