Monday, June 6, 2011

Introducing John Robinson!

Today, AC is thrilled to introduce our new partner in crime: mystery author John Robinson. We’re excited about having John on board and look forward to seeing the further evolution of the blog thanks to his contributions. We’ll let him introduce himself in his own words. But, first, we’re excited to announce Angela Ackerman is the winner of our Second Anniversary drawing. Angela has won copies of John’s thriller Heading Home, Linda’s romantic comedy Give the Lady a Ride, Lynnette’s historical romance Rocky Mountain Oasis, and Katie’s CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration. Enjoy, Angela—and our thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate AC’s second year! And, now, we present John Robinson:

I’ve been married for thirty-eight years to my lovely wife Barb. We have two grown sons (one of them married, with a family of his own), and a little daughter waiting for us in heaven. Presently I’m director of business development with a company that does contracting work with the military and the federal government.

I’d always liked to write, even from my early teen years, and when I was in college I was student affairs editor for the school paper. Years passed though, and that love seemed to fade. But a little over a decade ago it came roaring back, and in an unexpected way. It was New Years Day, 1999, and I was watching one of the bowl games on TV, when, suddenly, I started seeing something different on the screen. Don’t laugh, but it was almost like watching a movie. When I roused myself I found only a few minutes had passed, but amazingly I had the entire plot of Heading Home lined up in my head; it was then just a matter of writing it down and editing it. That process took about a year. Finding a house that would take such a controversial novel proved to be a challenge, though, and it wasn’t until 2008 that it was finally sold. During those intervening years I wrote and sold the Joe Box novels, and began the Mac Ryan series.

Because of its theme and unconventional main character, the first Joe Box novel, Until the Last Dog Dies was a booger to get published. My agent shopped it tirelessly, but kept coming to me back with stuff like “they love your writing, John, but the character of Joe scares them to death; they’re afraid women won’t buy it.” To which I responded, “Jeeze Louise, it’s not written for women!” Months passed, and my agent finally said they’ve done all they could, but couldn’t place it with anybody. That was in December of 2002. Flash forward to July of 2003. The Christian Book Association trade show was in Orlando that that year, and my agent was attending. As the story was told to me, the head buyer of one of the largest Christian bookstore chains was speaking with one of the marketing directors for Cook Communications, which owns RiverOak Publishing. They were talking about this and that, and the buyer said in an off-hand way, “I heard you’ve bought a novel featuring a Christian private investigator.” The Cook guy said no, he’d heard wrong, they took a pass on it. To which the buyer replied, “That’s funny; we could probably move a lot of units of that.” The Cook guy took that info to his people, and they told him, “See if it’s still available.” The Cook guy found my agent and asked if Until the Last Dog Dies was still on the table. Stunned, my agent said yes, and they proceeded to verbally cut the deal on the floor of the CBA. True story!

Somebody once asked me what would be my advice to someone just trying to break into publishing in this day; in reply, I’d tell them a story I once heard about Winston Churchill. The time was either the late fifties or early sixties, and by then Churchill was quite elderly when he was asked to give the commencement address for a large university.

The day came, and the auditorium was packed with students and alumni wanting to hear strong words of wisdom from the man who’d basically saved Britain during the darkest days the country had ever known. Slowly Sir Winston took the platform. Standing behind the podium, he gazed out at the sea of faces.

Then setting his famous bulldog jaw, he ground out these words: “Never give up. Never, never, never, never give up.” He fixed them with a gaze of iron. “Never.

And then he sat down.

And the place erupted in praise.

That’s what I’d tell people: “never give up.”

Just that.
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