Tuesday, October 18, 2016


I'm in the last roundup on my manuscript for COLD OATH. The critical question is, "When is it finished?" The story is written, and I've done a read through to make sure that I'm satisfied.

But I have two additional processes that I go through before the book is on sale and available to the public.

First, I have the manuscript reviewed by a line editor. That person goes over it with a fine tooth comb looking for typos, grammar or punctuation errors, or the badly phrased sentence.

Then I give "beta readers" a copy of the book. They read the story from beginning to end and let me know what they think. I truly value the feedback I receive from the beta readers.

As readers, we can devour a book in 6 to 10 hours of reading time, but as writers, the process takes months and the disconnected nature of trying to tell a story sentence by sentence, page by page, is often painfully evident when we go back to the beginning of the story - find that we've used two different names for one character, or that she had brown hair in one scene and a blonde in the next (not due to hair color, but author forgetfulness).

My hope is that at the end of the process, the book will be a "satisfying" read. Of course, not everyone agrees. The last time I went through the beta reader feedback process, one person said, "This is my least favorite book you've written." Two days later, another reader said, "Ray, I think this is your best book." Who was I to believe? The latter, of course. Because Life's a Mystery. :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

All in the Family

Periodically, I enjoy dabbling in family genealogy. I knew that my great-grandfather's name was Chester Dana Flynt. As a boy, when I inquired of my dad what Chester had done for a living, I was told that he was a spy during the Civil War, and that he had been an inventor. "What did he invent?" I asked my dad. He didn't know.

Occasionally, when the spirit moves me, I've gone into a library or on the Internet to search for more details about this elusive relative. I tried a few years back to search online for Patent Office information that might tell me more about Chester's inventions. No luck.

Chester was married in the 1840s to Caroline Yohe, my great grandmother. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I visited the church (still standing) where they were married. I also trolled through the church's cemetery hoping to locate a few more distant relatives. No luck.

During a recent search, I stumbled upon information from another person seeking information about Caroline Yohe. In her post, she wrote: "I am also keen on finding out more about CAROLINE'S husband CHESTER DANA FLYNT, an artist who traveled from town to town as a portrait painter and inventor of the universal automatic lubricating pads for trains which are still in use today. a painting of his entitled "the good samaritan" was presented to the sons of temperence, wyoming division in Wilkes Barre, PA"

Wow! My dad was right. Chester was an inventor. I was then able to search and found the patent for the lubricating pads. It was filed in the 1880s. I learned a couple more bits of trivia. Caroline's family was among the first settlers of Pennsylvania, and Chester was living in Philadelphia at the time of his first patent application. Suddenly, my family history brings me a little closer to the location for my books, my interest (expressed via Brad Frame) in trains, and perhaps my fascination with Philadelphian Ben Franklin.

Genealogy helps unravel Life's Mysteries.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The picture to the left has absolutely nothing to do with this post. Why you ask? I didn't want regular readers of this blog to think that I'm always trying to hock one (or more) of my books. The picture is an historic area of Philadelphia, mostly preserved from the 18th Century.

Today I want to share a few thoughts about friends. I'm blessed with good friends. I'm not talking about just the Facebook kind of "friend." I mean the people in my life that though I may not see them for years, when we get together we can pick up exactly where we left off.

In less than a month I'm traveling out to Las Vegas to visit with my best friend. We used to live quite close to each other and visited often. Now we are a couple of thousand miles apart and manage to stay in touch via email, phone, and occasional visits. Two years ago, I traveled to Las Vegas to see him, and last October he flew to Florida to visit with me. Now it's my turn to go back to Vegas.

Recently, I was asked a "security question" on a website for the name of my childhood "friend." First, I'm not sure we have a good concept in childhood of what friendship means. Usually at that point it is a person you are hanging out with the most. When I was a kid, I had several "friends."

As I got older, some of the friends I had during college have drifted away. The internet and social media sites help with keeping in touch, but I always enjoy celebrating friendships of the lasting variety.