Meet Roger Peppercorn, Author [Interview]

Roger Peppercorn | Author Interview | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Things about myself? Well I’m not sure where to begin. I really don’t like talking about myself  *cough* but if I must pontificate about myself at length I will marshal on. It’s funny because as a writer you are of two minds the narcissist and the demur. I say this laughingly because if you give me a mic and an audience of at least one it’s like flipping a switch.  I like to tell stories and make people laugh. It’s what I am best at. I obviously can’t speak for other writers but I would be willing to bet they too are victims of their own hubris. I was raised as a child during the economic downturn that gripped the Western slope of Colorado.

As a child I often spent a lot of time daydreaming. The stories and events that lived in mind were fantastical in nature. As I grew older I often times would watch others and create elaborate fantasies. I wasn’t really all that popular but I did pretty well of fitting in. I wasn’t the class clown or a real show off but I did a good job of framing heroes and villains in stories.

In my mine tween years I started to craft the ability to tell stories. Particularly during English for book reports. But it wasn’t until I took a writing class at a local community college where I really started to write. I don’t recall how many words or pages you were required to crank out daily but I know it felt like a lot. It’s also where I really started to work out scenes and play around with dialogue.

I’ve said this before but the line between good and bad is not always clearly black hat or white hat. It’s this conflict I’ve always been drawn too. To me stories about crime are far more interesting when the actions and words of the characters slide in and out of good and bad behavior. The procedural stuff is a means to bring the story to conclusion but friction between people is what makes a scene really pop on the page.

When I started this book a long time ago it started with the scene in Pea Green Hall. The main thrust of how it is written today holds true to how I saw it in my mind before I wrote it and how it “wrote” are different.

 How long have you been writing for?

Really long and not very long at all. I’ve had a couple of different ideas for stories and have attempted to write them but for a lot of reasons they just never reached the end. That’s the really long side but the short side is about five years. Like I was just saying this novel started with a scene and from there I started to build a story around it. The difference for me is I always had started a story from the start and had tried to walk it through to the end. One seems like a better way than the other but hey, this one scene is how this book got written and published.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Honestly the motivation is to get the words and images out of my head. I lived with the first book for about two years in my head and dreams before I set down to write it. Most of the stuff I produce that I really like comes out of living with it for a while. Turning it over and over. Wash, rinse and repeat. This book came about because I just wanted to get it out of my head and on the page to read.

I really got serious about writing when I started my blog. I know, I know everyone has one and some of them are really not good at all I leave them up for better or worse because it’s a way for me to gauge how I am progressing and maturing in the words and how they fit together.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Because I’m not wealthy my typical day is just like everyone else’s. Get up and go to work come home, hang with the kids and wife. But when it comes to writing I generally write in evenings after the kids have went to bed. My day job takes me on the road so I spend a lot of time in hotels, airports and behind the wheel. The airports and windshield time is where I do a good portion of scene layouts and dialogue.

On nights or weekends when I write there are a few things that for me are a must. First the room temp has to be around seventy five or eighty. I don’t like cool wind blowing on me when I write so no air-conditioning. I don’t like my arms sticking to the top of a desk so a lot of time I have a blanket or a towel to keep me from sticking to the desk.

Like now I am sitting in a recliner with pillows stacked around me to prop up my arms and my laptop is on top of another one. The only thing missing is some type of drink. Mostly I like coffee when I write but booze works pretty good as well.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I got an email in late fall of 2016. What I remember most is the grin and the satisfaction of all the hard work and slaving over the words, grammar, spelling and formatting had finally paid off. The compliment I got from Leesa at Wallace Publishing was something I will not ever forget.

But as to your question as to what I did. First I showed my wife the letter and then we both toasted the good news and after that had a really nice evening. The details of which I will leave to your imagination. It was a really good day.

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

The editing process takes a while to get through especially as an unpublished writer. Wallace did a great job with the particulars of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

I really did feel for them because when I was in high school grammar and English weren’t high on my list of things to succeed at. My girlfriend at the time used to do most of the English work for me which is exactly what it sounds like.

Overall it took about thirteen months and I think we went through two major edits, one minor and one really superficial final edit. But other than grammar and some rewording of some sentences there was only one paragraph we cut. So what you read today is very close to what went to the publisher.

The thing I liked the most was I was in control and had final say on what went to print. I learned a lot and am still learning a lot about the process of writing and self-promotion.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Why yes I am. Right now I am working on some research and supporting characters for the follow up novel which is titled The Sometimes Long Road Home. It takes place about 18 months after On the Devils Side of Heaven.

Walt is a cop in Fruita and a fulltime single father which he’s never had to be. Not to mention sobriety and just being a responsible adult. For a guy like that it’s a lot to take on suddenly. Ronald is still whereabouts unknown but when he shows up he too is a different character. Jessica is still reeling from her dramatic experience and all in all life in Fruita is a lot different now for everyone. So you get to see how all of this plays out.

Oh and there is a murder or two and some dinosaurs so that makes it interesting.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

That’s funny.

I wish I was an established writer with the income to go along with it. But I still have one of those “day jobs”. In fact it’s the same job I’ve had for almost twenty years. I work in telecommunications. I travel a good deal which is fodder for the books and occasional blog.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Honestly it’s how much effort marketing and promoting takes. As chic as the title of indie author is you are not the recipient of a larger agency who promote these for you. It takes a long time to build an audience and readership. In the end its worth it because it’s yours for better or worse and no one is a better guardian and promoter than you are.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I have always liked a good adventure and thriller. Books that on its face require you to buy into these worlds where things happen that you know are not believable in reality. Especially in the digital world of today.

James Lee Burke is my all-time favorite author I’ve read just about everything he has written. His world and characters are visceral.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

You have to love the process of storytelling first and foremost. Write the stories you want to read and write for your enjoyment and freedom of movement of the mind and expression. Unless you have the magic ticket to literary freedom and success be prepared for a very long road to getting published. Building an audience and a following takes time, energy and some money on your part. But there are a lot of support on social media that can help. Lastly don’t expect anyone in the “bookstore” business to really help out a lot. You are your own best advocate for your work and your brand

Sometimes stories or scenes just don’t write and when it happens take some time for reflection maybe hit the backspace key a few times and either start again or better yet look for those off beat paths that are adjacent to the one you are working on. But never let it stop the story.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Don’t let anyone tell you not to write. The written word is everlasting and the core of all the arts. Plays, movies and songs don’t exist without words. My fifth grade teacher gave me probably the best advice I still use today. Never use the same word to start a sentence in the same paragraph and take care not to use the word “that” too often.

Other than that no one should tell you how to tell your stories. But when a reader takes the time to give you feedback remove the ego and listen. It will only make you better.

About Roger Peppercorn

Roger Peppercorn has suffered for the better part of his life from wanderlust and this need to see the other side of the horizon has taken him to all parts of the world. The people and backdrop of his travels have served as the inspiration behind his characters and storytelling. As a child, his mother taught him to read and write. His father’s collection of Louis Lamour novels provoked the fantastical images in his mind and the romance of the written word. In the seventh grade, his history teacher brought the characters of a bygone era alive. From that point on, Roger began to hone his skills in storytelling. After high school, Roger took a course in creative writing that was taught by a long haired hippy in a Hawaiian shirt. Roger’s grandmother used to tell tales of traveling across the plains in a covered wagon, the woes of having a son sent off to war, and the larger-than-life man she met at Pea Green Hall who later became her husband. His first two novels “On The Devils Side of Heaven” and “The Sometimes Long Road Home” take place on the western slopes of Colorado, in the sleepy town of Fruita, where he grew up. They center on the strained relationships and sorted histories of three characters – Walt, Ronald and Jessica, and violence that erupts around them. Roger is married and is a father of four beautiful children. He currently calls South Dakota his home.

Connect With Roger Peppercorn

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 On The Devil's Side of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn | Author Interview | Crime Thriller | RachelPoli.comCheck Out On The Devil’s Side of Heaven

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On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven By Roger Peppercorn [Book Review – Mystery Month]

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On the Devil's Side of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn | Crime Thriller | Mystery | Book Review | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital review copy from the author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life.

Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he’s retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life.

Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.

Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I like the cover, it’s simple and a pretty picture of a forest. One look at it and for reason I can tell what the genre of the book is.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

This was an instant read for me mostly due to the genre. I enjoy crime and thrillers and this was a little different from what I usually read.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

The plot isn’t a bad one as two old friends – who also happen to be brother-in-laws meet up once more to foil some bad guys’ plans. The plot itself was fairly well executed and certainly fit for a thriller. There was plenty of action involved and it moved pretty quickly.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get into any of the characters. Walt, the protagonist, was a bit of a cliche – he lost his job, got divorced and lost his kids, and he sits in bars all night trying to drink away his problems. It kind of got old pretty fast.

Ronald wasn’t too bad of a character. However, he’s a retired hit-man but I couldn’t picture him ever being a hit-man other than the fact he was good with guns.

Even the group of bad guys. They acted tough, high-and-mighty, and swore a lot, but it seemed like it was all for the sake of them being the “bad guys.” There was no depth to it.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

I had a hard time reading the book due to the writing style. The POV switched between the characters. It was third-person omniscient, which is fine, but Walt’s parts were in first-person. So, sometimes I was reading the story along with Walt and other times I was with Ronald or an assassin with a third-party unknown narrator. I wasn’t sure which one to believe and it just made the story confusing, especially trying to piece the parts together.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This wasn’t a bad book, but it was hard for me to get into. I would have liked to see more consistent storytelling with more in-depth characters. It was hard for me to keep track of, though with the fast-pace action and high crime, you may want to give this one a try.

On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn gets…
Book Review Rating System | 2 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com2 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“He was a killer of all killers and he feared no man. But if his wife was mad, he came a-calling just as pronto as any lovesick dog.” –Roger Peppercorn, On the Devil’s Side of Heaven

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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The Neon Lawyer by Victor Methos

Neon Lawyer

Title: The Neon Lawyer
Author: Victor Methos
Genre: Mystery
How I got the book: I bought it on my Kindle

Summary (from Amazon):

With money and hope in short supply, newly minted attorney Brigham Theodore decides it’s time to lower his standards. He joins a seedy fly-by-night firm in Salt Lake City out of desperation. After he loses his first case—a speeding ticket—he’s convinced his career is over. But to his shock, his boss hands him a slightly more complex case: capital murder.

Brigham’s new client is Amanda Pierce, a lost, exhausted woman who gunned down the man who tortured and killed her six-year-old daughter. A jury may prove sympathetic to her unbearable pain, but the law is no fan of vigilante justice—and neither is Vince Dale, the slick and powerful prosecutor who’s never lost a murder case. There’s no question that Amanda pulled the trigger—she did it in front of five witnesses. If she pleads guilty, she will avoid a death sentence, but saving her life this way comes with an admission that what she did was wrong. However, if she refuses the “guilty” label, Brigham will have no choice but to fight for his career—and Amanda’s life.

My Review:

Being only 166 pages, The Neon Lawyer was a quick read. Brigham Theodore is thrown into a high-class, important murder case as his first real case as a lawyer. His client, Amanda Pierce, murdered the man who kidnapped, raped, and killed her six-year-old daughter. How do you win a case like that when even the defendant admits she’s guilty?

While the case was interesting enough, there wasn’t a lot of action going on. It was a good read, but the protagonist didn’t even get the case until 60 or so pages into the novel. As I said earlier, the book is only 166 pages long. They didn’t get to court until there were about 30 pages left of the book. The beginning was slow while the ending went too fast.

However, the court was well-written and I enjoyed the tiffs between Brigham and the prosecutor. I don’t too much about lawyers, court, or the rules of the laws, but this was interesting and kept my attention the whole time.

My only wish for the book was that it was a bit longer. I felt as though so much more could have been done for the case and for the characters. There were some loose ends that I felt weren’t tied up by the end, which makes it feel incomplete.

Also, the last chapter was only four pages long which I didn’t think that was a good enough wrap-up for what happened to all the characters afterward. I would have liked to see an epilogue showcasing what happened to Brigham, the law firm he was apart of, his friends from the firm, as well as his client.

It was a good read, but I definitely think it could have been better.

The Neon Lawyer by Victor Methos gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“There was a warm sensation in his gut that he didn’t recognize–maybe something between satisfaction and the beginnings of greed, for someone who had never felt greedy.” –Victor Methos, The Neon Lawyer

Inspiration Station: Research For Mystery Novels

Research for Mystery Novels

We all enjoy the mystery genre whether it’s reading a book or watching a TV show. We love to play detective and figure out who the culprit is. We love piecing the clues together. We especially love trying to figure it out before the protagonist does.

However, when you’re writing a mystery novel you need to play from all angles. You’re the victim, you’re the detective, and you’re the culprit. You’re every witness and every suspect. You should know the beginning, the middle, and the end when going into the mystery. You lay out all the clues for yourself and then start searching for them right after.

But how exactly can you have all this knowledge?

Well, you watch plenty of TV mystery shows, don’t you? You know, like Psych, where you follow a hyper-observant man with no job and no education. Yet, he’s still able to solve crimes much better than the police station.

What about Chuck? Or Burn Notice? I’m sure there’s some truth to those shows… Right?

Even some mystery novels can bend the truth a little because… Well, they’re fictional. So how can you do effective research for the mystery genre?

True Crime:

There are some books out there with their own genre called True Crime. These books are non-fiction based upon real life history events. They will help you learn about police investigation, how criminals think, and the many different kinds of crimes that can occur.

I’m also sure there are biographies and memoirs about certain criminals and certain detectives. One could learn a lot from that as well.

Writers Guides:

There’s a series I enjoy reading by Lee Lofland. He worked in law enforcement for a long time and now he writes guides for writers on police investigation. There’s Police Procedure & Investigation, Forensics, and Book of Poisons. I have read and reviewed Police Procedure & Investigation on my blog. I own the other two books, but have yet to read them.

The books’ topics range from different criminal profiles, to the way police and detectives are trained, their ranks, drugs, weapons, laws, etc.

There’s a lot of useful information stored in those books. If you have a question, one of those books will most certainly have the answer.

Study Guides:

I don’t do this often, but I have sat down at the local bookstore and thumbed through a study guide or two of the Police Officer exam. It gives me a good sense of what an officer has to learn in school and what they need to know. I can get a sense of my what character knows or, if s/he is a younger character, I can get a sense of what s/he is working on in school.

Plus, I enjoy taking the practice test. There’s a section where they give you a picture and you have to study it for a certain amount of time. Then you answer questions based on the scene and see how much you remember.

Take Classes:

Skimming through study guides is quick and easy, but you could also take a course here and there. Do you want to get a hands-on feel for forensics? Take a college course on the matter. It’d be much easier to write the five senses after you’ve actually lived it.

Even if it is just a mock-up in a classroom.

Talk To Real People:

Do you know any police officers in real life? Talk to them. Ask them questions. It’s all research and depending on how well you know the officer, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to ask for certain information.

Or you can always talk to a family member or close friend of an officer. Talk to retired officers and listen to their stories. I’m sure they all have interesting ones.

So there are many different ways to research the mystery genre. Despite it being fiction, you should have some sort of truth in there. You should have some sort of knowledge of the profession.

After all, you are your protagonist.

Writing Prompt:

Write down what you know–or what you think you know–about the law enforcement profession. Then do some light research to see how much you really know. Do you need to do a lot of research before starting your novel? Or do you have enough real information to get by?

Related Articles:

Mystery Novel Writing: 5 FAQs on How to do Excellent Research for Your Novel
Research Resources for Mystery and Crime Writers
Conducting Forensic Research

Two Book Reviews #2

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.

Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

Martin was an ordinary boy up until the age of 12 when his body shut down. He couldn’t eat, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t walk or use his arms. He couldn’t do anything. To the naked eye he was lifeless.

However, there was much more going on that only Martin himself knew. He was very much alive mentally, but for some reason his body betrayed him.

This novel, written by Martin Pistorius himself, is his journey through dealing with his sickness, overcoming his fears, finding love, and learning how to be alive again.

Martin tells his story from beginning to end showing us the confusion and frustration that he and his family felt when his body shut down. Everyone was confused as to what happened to him and why and Martin was frustrated to the point of rage when his body stopped working. Trying to tell people you’re still alive and conscious when you can’t move or speak is anyone’s worst nightmare.

Even though the story is through Martin’s point of view, I felt as though I learned a lot about the other characters as well; his parents, his siblings, and his wife. Both of his parents–especially his mom–developed quite a bit when coming to terms and understanding their son’s illness.

Martin is great storyteller and to see the world through the eyes of a mute and paralyzed man was both inspiring and amazing.

Ghost Boy gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Dreams can be any size you want them to be. But the important thing is that you have one that is yours.” –Martin Pistorius, Ghost Boy

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Not everything you see on your favorite crime show is accurate. In fact, a lot of it is flat out wrong. “Police Procedure & Investigation” helps you get your facts straight about the inner workings of law enforcement.

With a career in law enforcement that spanned nearly two decades, author Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedures and crime scene investigations who consults regularly with best-selling authors and television producers. Now you can benefit from his years of experience with “Police Procedure & Investigation.”

I started this book in January and didn’t finish it until March because this book is not a novel, but I read it like one.

This book is a reference guide for writers written by Lee Lofland who has over 20 years experience in the law enforcement field.

The book covers a variety of topics such as the court system, detectives, fingerprinting, different kinds of crimes, police officers and the academy, drugs, a look inside prison, and so much more.

There are some real life case explanations to give the reader a good feel of what it’s really like to work in the law enforcement field. Also, if I had a dime for every time Lofland mentioned that TV police officers are nothing like real life ones, I would be rich. At the end of the guide, there are quotes from real police officers comparing real life to TV show crime dramas.

As a mystery writer, this book definitely comes in handy. I learned a lot reading it. However, there is so much information that I don’t intend to remember it all. Whenever I get stuck in my own writing, I know I’ll always be able to go back to that book for reference.

Police Procedure and Investigation gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Police officers don’t fire warning shots! For goodness’ sake, what goes up must come down!” –Lee Lofland, Police Procedure and Investigation

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!

Saturdays and Contests

WD

Saturday is probably the most favored day of the week by people. Monday through Friday are typical work days for most and Sundays just mean the weekend is over.

For me, I love Saturdays because they are probably the most productive day of the week for me. Every other Saturday, at the very least.

I’ve gotten myself into a pretty good routine. Every other Saturday is cleaning day for me. I clean my office (organizing things, dusting, vacuuming, the works) and do the same to my bedroom. I clean the bathroom, I wash my bed sheets, vacuum the stairs, and clean the fish and/or turtle tank if they need to be done. I usually have a TV show playing in the background to keep myself company. Then I take a shower and then write or edit for the rest of the day.

Today I got a lot of writing done. I wrote the next two Short Story Sunday posts and I continued to type up my edited first draft of Detective Florence. Due to my Disney vacation, I got way behind on that. I’m probably going to be working on that off and on for the rest of the night.

I also brainstormed a bit on something else. Writer’s Digest’s Popular Fiction contest is here and the early-bird deadline is less than a month away. I always tell myself I’m going to do it every year and then I never do. This time, I have three ideas for it. I’m not sure which I want to go with. I think you can send in multiple submissions, but I’m not entirely sure. So, I want to go with one for now… plus, there’s an entry fee.

The Popular Fiction contest is a short story contest of 4,000 words or less. The deadline is October 15, 2014 with an entry fee of $25. The early-bird deadline is September 15, 2014 with an entry fee of $20. As you can see, the early-bird is cheaper. The story needs to be one of six categories: romance, horror, crime, science fiction, young adult, or thriller.

I have an idea for romance, crime, and young adult. The young adult one is already written. It just needs fixing up. The crime one already has characters (meaning Detective Florence), and the romance one is based off of my Short Story Sunday #18.

So, I don’t know. Time is running out, though. I know I technically have until October, but it would be nice to save five dollars. 😉