How do you choose the title of your next book that you're working on and when exactly do you?
I didn’t know the title of my first one until I was ½ way through it, but the minute I figured it out, I knew without a doubt that it was the one. Sometimes you just know what you want the title of your book to be and other times, you can write for weeks or months on end and not have a clue, but trust me, it’ll come to you when the time is right.
How many copies of your book do you have on hand and do you ever reread it like it’s your first time picking it up? I found myself doing that to The Notorious Texas Swindler. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I knew every detail about the story from beginning to end, I still read it like it was my first time. And for the record, I have plenty of copies stashed away, because don’t all authors dream of seeing their book sitting on their bookshelves at home? I know I do, hence, the reason I have several copies on hand! It’s so fun to randomly place them on my bookshelves next to other authors' books who I enjoy reading or plan on reading who’ve done the same thing.
I came across the storyline for The Notorious Texas Swindler, when I was told the story by my family. It was an intriguing one and it quickly became my passion, as I was determined to expose those who did and still prey on others. Now that I’ve completed that book and am moving onto my next one, and I’m still deciding which story I think would fit me best, I’m anxiously gathering information to see what I’ll need to move forward. The fun part about it is being transported back in time to a place in history where I can learn about places and events that I might not otherwise have known about.
Bring on the next chapter, because I’m ready!
Do you ever find yourself re-reading your work after it’s completed, passing up other books just to grab yours, because you enjoy the writing and the story?
Every once in a while I find myself picking up that book, the one that took me so long to finish, and before I realize it I’m halfway through it and even though I know how it ends, I’m still hanging on till the last page to read those words all over again.
Does anyone else do that?
It’s April Fool’s Day and oh, how I love to pull a prank on those closest to me. And nobody is exempt from it.
I remember one that I pulled on Bob several years ago. It was ten years to the date to be exact. I wrote Bob a long email and I buttered it up, making it so believable that he was hooked from the beginning, up until he got to the end and realized that he was just a fool being told nothing but a story.
I told him that a madman broke into my apartment where I was living at the time and the intruder went plumb crazy. I told Bob the man got onto the couch and started jumping around on it, hopping from one couch cushion to the other and the whole time he demanded to know where all the cash was. He stated the only thing he wanted was money and a bologna sandwich, and he refused to get off the couch. Then, out of nowhere and without warning, he stripped down to nothing but his underwear, and somehow, he managed to pull a pistol out while he shed his clothes and threw them all over the place, and he started waving his gun around in midair. I thought to myself, those cushions are really taking a beating considering all the heavy bouncing he's doing on them. because he was not a small man.
This went on for about 15 minutes when he suddenly picked up his jeans that were lying on the couch next to him and he threw them up into the air. I told Bob that he threw them so high that they caught onto the oscillating ceiling fan and they started spinning around the room while they were attached to the ceiling fan, and all his loose change in the pockets of his jeans were falling out and flying all over the place. The man was so out of his mind that when the change began to fall, he thought it was raining money. That’s when he made the statement several times about how rich he was. It temporarily took his mind off the fact that he had just asked minutes before for all the money in the place, and thankfully no one had to go digging through their wallets to appease him.
I finally ended the story because it got so ridiculous and absurdly impossible to believe, so I said, “April fool’s,” and ended the email. Three days later, after sending that email to him, I received a letter from him saying he didn’t know what to believe when he got that from me. He was mad and reading it wanting to know the whole time why I didn’t pull a gun on the guy and shoot him, and then he got to the end and realized it was an April fool’s joke.
What's a funny April Fool's joke that you've pulled on someone?
How do you pick your next story and know that it’s the right one for you to tell? What made you choose the genre or genres you write? Was there a story that you felt compelled to tell, or was it an exciting read you couldn’t wait to get out into the world?
I knew when I first learned about the story behind The Notorious Texas Swindler, that I was drawn to it, because it was about a family member, and I was determined to tell the parts of the story that no one else knew.
I recently just learned about another story that caught my attention and I feel the exact same way about this one that I did about Bob’s story. And if you’re wondering, no, it’s not about a family member; rather, someone who I believe will certainly feel like a family member before the book hits the press.
So, what draws you to a story and makes you feel compelled to write about it?
Here’s an interesting and fun fact about me. I am a banned author. Let me explain.
When The Notorious Texas Swindler first came out, I ordered a copy and had it sent to Bob at the prison where he is housed. All books and publications that are sent to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, or TDCJ, have to go through their mailroom before it can be distributed to the inmates. The mailroom has an approved reading list given to them by the Directors Review Committee, or DRC, that they use to tell them if the material is approved or not. Any book that is not on the list must be approved by the DRC. Since my book was not on the list, it had to be reviewed by the DRC and then voted on whether or not the offenders could receive it. This process generally takes up to two weeks.
I received news that The Notorious Texas Swindler was rejected because of its content and it would not be allowed to be sent into any of the jails, or prisons on state, or federal levels, in Texas. I was not offended by this and I completely understood why. For two weeks, my book had caused a stir in TDC, and while I’m not trying to cause trouble with folks, I couldn’t be more honored that my work caught the attention of others it might not otherwise have.
Who else do you know that can outright say their first book has been banned?
Who wants to hear an embarrassing family story? Well, I’ve got plenty to share and I thought I’d tell one on Bob.
A few years ago, I planned a last minute visit to see Bob and I wanted to let him know about it. I always emailed him in advance, but it was so last minute that I didn’t have enough time to email him and wait for him to get it before our visit. It usually takes a day or two for the offenders to receive their mail, sometimes longer, depending on how backed up the mailroom is.
Since our visit was scheduled for the next morning I decided to call into a local call-in radio show, which is broadcasted worldwide on the internet, to let him know I would be there. The call-in show is designed for a one way conversation where the offenders can listen to their loved ones on the radio. I knew that he would be listening to this show and thought what a better way to get my message across to him. So, as soon as the show aired and they began taking requests from callers, I called in and when it was my turn to talk, I said that I would be there the following morning and to make sure he was in a good mood when I got there. I also stated that I had a lot on my plate and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with any irritability, so I stressed to him to make sure he was in a decent mood, especially since I was driving for 2 hours to see him.
The next morning when I showed up for our visit, I asked him if he had heard me on the radio and he looked at me, put his hand over his forehead to shield his eyes like he was embarrassed and he told me he’d never been so embarrassed in his life.
I thought that was ironic, considering how he’d been splayed all over the front cover of newspapers and a rag and I told him just that. There weren’t enough call-in radio shows for me to embarrass him with as much as he did to embarrass the rest of us with his ridiculous antics. When dealing with family, sometimes you have to keep it real, even if it ‘embarrasses’ them, as Bob told me I did to him. Our visit resumed like normal.
Do you have an embarrassing story? Share it below!
The most enjoyable part of the writing process for me is the research. I love interacting with others and hearing their stories, gathering details and information then combining the details to write the story.
In one of my many conversations that I had with Bob, while I was going through this process, he asked me what the individuals I spoke with said and he wanted to know what I was writing. I shared an interesting detail with him that I found while I was researching the events that happened in Comanche County that had to do with his first stint involving law enforcement. It was a piece of the story that he had left out, or overlooked, maybe even forgotten, when he first told me about it. When I reminded him about this, he told me what I shared with him was not how he remembered it, and for him it may not have been.
Bob’s a compulsive liar, this is a fact I bring out in the book, the second chapter to be exact, so his version of events are constantly changing when he shares the story each time. Nonetheless, what I shared with him was the correct version of events and I double checked everything, and spoke with credible witnesses.
After voicing his opinion and thoughts to me, I told him, 'Of course it doesn’t sound right to you, because you’ve been telling everyone your own version of how you think the events should have gone; and you tend to make them up as you go along. Let me remind you that you’re a compulsive liar, it's no secret, so your version is always different from the actual truth. Keep in mind though that I always triple check everything and I make sure the story is accurate, and that, my friend is how I roll.’
Research is so important and I can’t stress how much fact checking is too.
I was remembering a conversation that Bob and I had many years ago when I first started researching and writing The Notorious Texas Swindler, and I want to set the record straight. Many are under the impression that Bob, at one time or another, has buried money that has never been claimed; that he just has it stashed somewhere. I cannot tell you how many people have tried to dig in parts all over the state of Texas looking for that unclaimed money that they claim he has put up for safe keeping.
During one of our many visits, he told me this, and as much as it infuriated me, I knew that someday someone would take him seriously, just as many others in the past have. Just as our visit had ended and he was getting up to leave, I told him, ‘You quit telling everybody you have money buried somewhere. Some fool is going to write that someday if you don’t stop it,’ and I’ll be damned if somebody didn’t. Folks, if something sounds too good to be true, please listen to your gut and know that it probably is.