Les Cochran Blog

Fiction Author

November 8, 2017
by lescochranblog
0 comments

MY “BLIND PIG” NEEDS BETA READERS

BLIND PIG, my focus for today, is a bit different than last week when I posted a copy of an article in a Washington, DC, TheHill.com, featuring my thoughts on how the federal government could cut the bloated budget without firing employees or cutting programs. For details, see:  http://bit.ly/CochranOnTheHill

Back to Book Business

Today, it’s back to book business.   This time I need your help.  In early 2018, I’ll be releasing BLIND PIG, the second novel in my Detroit Thorn Birds Defy the Mafia series

Your Thoughts Are Important

BLIND PIG will be my fifth book, and second historical fiction novel.  As I’ve  mentioned to you before, I value input from readers.  Remember, I “de-sexed” SAX CLUB because several readers told me it deluded the historical genre by diverting the reader’s attention away from the plot without adding value to the story.

Book Description

Detective Clark Philips is upping the ante; his team of police officers and FBI agents embark on an operation to undercut Mafia run blind pigs and unmask Mafia ties with the Catholic Church.

Building upon their successes in SAX CLUB, the real-to-life characters continue their uphill battle in BLIND PIG, the second historical fiction novel in the “Detroit Thorn Birds” series.

It’s the late ‘70s, Detroit is hemorrhaging; a criminal juggernaut has brought the city to its knees — the Mafia has outwitted and outmaneuvered what is widely known as the nation’s most corrupt police force. The city’s social fabric is torn beyond repair, neighborhood gangs are rampant — unethical political officials offer no help — the situation is hopeless!

Today’s Challenge: Find Beta Readers for BLIND PIG

That means I need your help.  For the first time, I’m asking readers to give me feedback before the book is published.  Yes, it’s a process described as using “beta readers.”  I need beta readers for BLIND PIG.

What is Expected?

There is no need for beta readers to edit the text as I always have my books professionally edited.  I need feedback from you on the storyline- -does it flow? Are the characters (good, bad and ugly) well defined? What should be added or deleted to make the book a “good read?”

Want to “Be a Beta?”

If you are interested, or know someone who is an avid reader and would like to “be a beta,” please let me know as soon as possible.  Leave a note in the box below or email me at  Author@LesCochran.com I will send a pdf. of BLIND PIG with basic guidelines for sharing your thoughts with me.

Cheers to Readers Everywhere!   

October 29, 2017
by lescochranblog
0 comments

Federal Budget Cuts Made Simple

Fiction Writer Proposes Strategy to Cut Federal Budget?

After reading my blogs, you’re probably wondering why is a fiction writer proposing a strategy to cut the federal budget?  Well, in some ways the two go hand-in-hand.  For two decades, now, the rhetoric in Washington, DC has been the same—politicians promise budget cuts—but spending balloons and the federal deficit skyrockets. Hmm. . . anything fictitious in those promises?  

Fact is, in 1998 President Clinton had a balanced budget, and then through joint efforts of a Republican Congress, maintained budget surpluses in his last three years in office.

So, even though I spend hours writing fiction, my strategy for cutting the federal budget is NOT fictitious.

It’s a Tested Strategy that Works.

Before becoming a fiction writer, I was a university president.  Upon arrival on campus, I found the university was running a deficit–using over $6 million from reserves in the operating budget—the reserves were gone.  I had to develop a plan. 

I’m sharing my strategy with you via an article I wrote for The Hill, the largest circulation of any Capitol Hill publication, with more than 24,000 print readers and thousands more online.  It provides in-depth coverage of breaking news and tackles the most pressing policy issues for decision-makers in Washington D.C.  

A Synopsis of Federal Budget Cutting Strategy

Article Printed in The Hill, 10-27-17

Substantive federal budget cuts require more than cutting programs along party lines.  Reductions must be systemic.  Read how a trillion dollar reduction in federal spending can be made, without terminating employees or eliminating programs:   http://bit.ly/CochranOnTheHill   

Share, Share, Share – – Thank You.

October 26, 2017
by lescochranblog
0 comments

More Changes to SAX CLUB

In my last post, I indicated I had “de-sexed” SAX CLUB and released a  Second Edition of the first book on the Detroit mafia in the 1970s and 80s.  I’m sure you shook your head.  “Geez, Cochran hasn’t even released the second book in the series and he’s already putting out a Second Edition of the first one.” 

Good Point

Frankly, you’ve made a good point.  What author would be willing to re-write a book within the first year of publication? 

Answer: I would, because I listen and  learn from my readers.  Remember – – I used to be a university president; I’m still honing my fiction writing skills.

Inner Voice

When you really listen; you hear what’s being said.  It’s the same when you listen to yourself, and hear your inner voice.  It may be a second thought, a nagging question, a brainwave.  Regardless of the form, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Just as I listened to my readers, I needed to listen to myself—my inner voice was saying, “it’s the SAX CLUB cover, it’s not right.”

Series Sequence Indentification

I looked at the cover again.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was missing.  I talked to Lin—she’s very intuitive about the perceptions of my readers. I held the book in front of her and asked, “What’s not there?  What is missing?”

She responded quickly, “It doesn’t mention it’s the first book in the series.”

“Good point… and there’s also something that bugs me about the term ‘Thorn Birds of Detroit’ and our choice of the words ‘Confront Mafia.’

 So, it was back to drawing board, even though we had spent hours working on the cover before the original release. 

Dealing with the series question, I reviewed the top twenty-five best-selling novels written as a series. I learned books in a series didn’t need to be listed as Book #1, Book #2, and #3.  Often a word out of the story is used, like Endeavor #1, Endeavor #2, in a space series.

“Bingo, I could use the word ‘Mafia,’ but Mafia what?”  I thought to myself, I really enjoy the research, but it’s a lot of work.  I paused, “Work,” that’s it.  I’ll use Mafia Works #1, Mafia Works #2, #3, #4 to sequence the series.

Tweaking the Cover

Having solved that question, I moved onto the subtitle Thorn Birds of Detroit Confront Mafia. That had always bothered me, who knows why?  Maybe it sounded too uppity, I don’t know. 

“Why not Detroit Thorn Birds?” I said to Lin “That’s what they are, regular people fighting an uphill battle.” 

That left Confront. Before settling on it originally we had searched a Thesaurus countless times—each time confront was chosen by default—but still, it had no pizzazz.

Agreeing confront was out, it was back to the Thesaurus and another list of possible words. Finally, we selected the word “defy.” It is short, sharp, and to-the-point.

Rewritten and Re-titled

Long story short, I heard what reviewers had to say and I heard my inner voice speaking.  So, changes were made on both the inside and outside of SAX CLUB before I released the Second Edition.  The first book in the series is now re-written and re-titled.  I hope these changes appeal to my readers/reviewers and attract new Friends and Fans. 

Cheers to Readers Everywhere!

 Amazon connection

Coming: More About Mafia Works #2

The second book in the series, BLIND PIG, will be released in early 2018.  I’ll share more information in a future post

October 12, 2017
by lescochranblog
1 Comment

READERS SPEAK – I LISTEN AND LEARN

Detroit Mafia/Thorn Birds Series Update

Last year about this time I released the first book in a new series about the Detroit Mafia in the 1970s.  Well, believe it or not, I’ve done it again.  I’ve released the second edition of SAX CLUB.  It’s available on Amazon and other book sites and is five thousand words shorter than the original novel. 

“Why?” you say

As simple as it may seem, it’s the result of what I heard from people like you. Since releasing SAX CLUB, I’ve listened to what my reviewers, fans, and readers said.  Not all, but several made the same point—“for a novel in the historical fiction genre, there’s too much emphasis on the personal love life of the main character.”

Taken Back

At first, I was taken back.  So I read SAX CLUB, again. (Can you imagine an author sitting down and reading his own book?)  The message was clear and on point—I had not made a complete transition  from my “Love, Lies, and Liaisons” trilogy, which followed the personal life of a sex addict.  In other words, Clark Phillips, my lead character in SAX CLUB still had  some of the same behaviors as Steve Schilling in the trilogy.

Never Too Old to Learn

Though I’m busy writing my fifth book, I still have a lot to learn – – even at my age.  As an academic administrator I used to preach to my colleagues “it’s amazing what you hear when you listen.”  (Today, some of them would say “Amen” to the fact that I just admitted to preaching!) The saying is still true – it’s amazing what I’m learning by listening to my readers.  Thank you for sharing.

I “De-Sexed” SAX CLUB

I bet that sub-title got your attention.  As I was working on finishing my new house, I reflected on the input I had received from readers.  “Hmm . .” I said to myself, “I’m writing for readers to enjoy my stories, therefore, I need their input and advice.”  As a result, I took Steve Schilling’s love life behaviors away from Clark Phillips.  I reduced the sex scenes in SAX CLUB and kept Clark more focused on his detective work to outsmart the Detroit Mafia.  

Outcome – Second Edition: Detroit Mafia/Thorn Birds Series 

While the second edition of SAX CLUB is shorter, the story is unchanged. In fact, it’s readability is crisper and more sharply focused on Detroit in the 1970s. 

Thanks, readers.  Keep sharing your thoughts.  I’m listening AND learning.

 

P.S. If you want to read the sexless version, here’s direct access: SAX CLUB: Second Edition

September 14, 2017
by lescochranblog
0 comments

Call for Detroit Mafia Experts

Oh, oh – – I’ve become a “research-aholic!” Seriously, it’s an addiction I’ve acquired as I develop my historical fiction series on the Detroit mafia in the 1970s and 80s. Yes, it’s fiction I’m writing, but wow does the real life data ever fuel my imagination.

Detroit Mafia Experts Needed

My major goal in writing this series is to narrow the gap between fact and fiction. Needless to say, I’m open to learning more about the way it was in Detroit during those days.  I know I’ve told you that I lived and taught high school there during that time, however, I was more naive about what was going on than I thought.  Whew! The tales I’ve heard and the data I’ve uncovered are super for weaving stories for my readers.

Some of my sources include information from retired members of the Detroit Division of the FBI. Who wouldn’t want to know what was going on with their mafia cases?  Below is a review of SAX CLUB from an FBI source.  Many thanks to Oscar.  After interviewing him several times I thought I’d learned everything he had to share.  Whoa, was I wrong.  Each time I communicate with him, he shares another case from his days in Detroit.  I gleefully take notes and begin creating ways to work the new information in a future novel.

Help With My Addiction

I enjoy interacting with others who lived in Detroit and personally (or indirectly) experienced some mafia actions and connections.  Again, these insights get me fired up about writing new stories for my key characters as I continue to develop this series.

If you have personal experiences, or connections with someone who may, please share with me.  Let me know how to contact you by leaving information in the Message box below or email me at:  Author@LesCochran.com   

Cheers to Readers!

July 28, 2017
by lescochranblog
0 comments

Live with Les – The Detroit Riots

Hello Friends and Fans,

The Detroit Riots of 1967 made a huge impact on the future of Detroit.  I was there and I’m about to share some of my experiences with you.  Have you watched Facebook Live before?  That’s where I’ll be Sunday, July 30 at 7 PM – Detroit time!

Help Me Recruit Viewers

Facebook Live is a new venue for me.  I sure hope I don’t end up talking to myself – – ha, ha! How about forwarding this to your friends who are interested in the history of Detroit and/or the Detroit Riots, or those who like to read historical fiction, or about crime, and the mafia?  I’ll share background on how my years in Detroit inspired me to create the “Detroit Thorn Birds” series. Go to Amazon: http://bit.ly/SaxClubLesCochran

“Live with Les”

That’s what I’m calling my event Sunday.  Perhaps it will be something I do from time to time.  I want to interact with you and others who read my work and this seems like a fun way to start the two-way interaction.  While you are watching “Live with Les” I encourage you to write a question or comment on Facebook. Or, if you wish, send your questions ahead via this blog. I will he happy to respond. 

Go to: https://www.facebook.com/Les-Cochran-Fiction-Author

Lin and I’ll figure out the Facebook mechanics to make this work.  While we are doing that, please recruit your friends and anyone else that is interested in this topic.  The address above will take you to my Facebook page where I will be doing “Live with Les.”  

July 20, 2017
by lescochranblog
1 Comment

DETROIT RIOTS – 50 YEARS AGO

Detroit 1967 – I Was There!

In some ways it seems like yesterday.  Fifty years ago I was a young teacher working on my doctorate at Wayne State University in Detroit.  On Sunday, July 23rd, I listened to Ernie Harwell’s play-by-play coverage of the doubleheader between the Tigers and Yankees.

The kids were enjoying summer vacation at the family farm with my parents. I spent the day working on my dissertation, buried in my makeshift office in the basement.  By the time the second game at Tiger Stadium had ended, I was ready to hit the sack. 

The City is Closed?

Monday morning I was up early, put on my suit and tie, and headed for the car.  Opening the door, I paused when the neighbor lady called, “Les, where are you going?”

A frown crossed by face.  “Wayne State,” I said as a manner of fact.

“You can’t,” she responded.  “The city is closed… there’s a riot downtown.  Turn on the TV.  You can watch the whole thing.”

Following her directions, I hustled inside and flipped on the television. It was unreal. Sirens screeched.  Smoke filled the air.  Gun shots repeated like machine guns in a war zone.  Television cameras stationed atop buildings chronicled the city’s demise.  I saw a white car pull up in front of Saks Fifth Avenue, at least five times.  With each stop, two men jumped out, ran inside, and returned, filling their car with armfuls of furs. 

Great Ideas for Novels

Happenings like this germinated in my head for years and now have come to life in a new series—“Detroit Thorn Birds Defy Mafia.”  It’s a different take on the Mafia.  Rather than describing family relationships from the top-down, as in the Godfather, my novels depict real-to-life people—the Detroit thorn birds—fighting back, clawing for survival to save their homes, their dignity, and way of life.

New Series: Detroit Thorn Birds Defy Mafia

This fall the second edition of SAX CLUB, with a sharper focus on its historical perspective, will be released.  It takes place ten years after the Detroit riots.  The Associated Press article below provides detailed personal perspectives on what happened that day.  Check it out.  And, on August 4th a movie titled Detroit will be released.  From the clips I’ve seen, it’s a must see!

http://bit.ly/DetroitRiots

Facebook Live Coming Soon

On Sunday, July 30th I will be launching my first “Live with Les” on Facebook.  Join me as I share my experiences in Detroit during the riots.  

June 13, 2017
by lescochranblog
2 Comments

DETROIT THORN BIRDS AUTHOR – – – ON ANOTHER WILD RIDE!

Building a Mountain Home

In a previous blog I shared information about my wild ride from Florida to the mountains of western North Carolina. When we decided to build our home here I thought the wild rides were over.  Little did I know that we were in for an extended eight months of “wild rides.”

Our new venture started out like a Sunday drive in the mountains.  The ride was smooth, silky; the views were spectacular.  We loved the elevations and develped our plans.  After meeting with the builder and signing the contact— it seemed as though everything was on the up and up.

Buy More Charmin?

Then we met with the bankers.  They were as friendly as could be and ready to complete the deal.  Except, they didn’t get the memo about our “paperless society.”  They must buy more Charmin than anyone.  We were wiped out after signing the same forms multiple times. 

Googling My Assignments

With our contract and cash in hand, the next phase began by dividing up responsibilities.  Having been through the building process several times before, we knew each other’s strengths.  Lin is an excellent designer, having demonstrated her skill on countless projects.  Being an old farm boy, I know sizes, proportions, angles, and have good problem solving skills. 

Getting deep into our project, we paused once again to divvy up our chores.  It was easy—Lin took the lead in the selection of bathroom fixtures, tile, appliances, rugs, furniture, and all of the other essentials.   I was assigned the task of searching online for lighting fixtures.  

“Fine,” I said to myself, knowing I’d never ordered anything online except a book on Amazon.  I struggled where I’d start till Lin gave me an ingenious suggestion—look for contemporary lighting. 

I don’t know why I couldn’t figure that out. 

So I Googled the listing.  Oh my, the options were endless.  Each day I pursued another site—Overstock, Wayfair, Homeclick, Hayneedle, 1Stoplighting, and more.  It wasn’t long before I got the knack and started printing out pictures and specs.  I was all over the board—like a shotgun—kitchen lights, hallway lights, ceiling fixtures, pendants.  I asked Lin, “Where do I start?”

“Front entrance pendants,” she said, precisely, “We need three of them.”  Knowing there was no way I’d pick the right one, I’d decided to select ten fixtures and let her decide from there.  If she didn’t like any of them I’d pick ten more.  I knew sooner or later I’d find one that fit “our” tastes. 

 After twenty some proposals, I found a twenty-four inch pendant that was well beyond our budget.  For the heck of it I made a copy and laid it in front of her.

“That’s it,” she acclaimed.

I smiled and said, “I don’t think so,” then I read her the price, $1,244.

“No way, Jose,” she blurted.

Persistence Got Me There

I went back to my laptop.  Searching the next four days for something comparable—nothing came close.  Unwilling to give up, I went back to the $1,244 site again and again.  I put the item in my cart, left it there all night, took it out and tried another approach; the results were the same, $1,244.

On the fifth day I gave up and started searching Homeclick for another item.  Within minutes, a miracle occurred—the $1,244 item appeared at $388.88 as well as an additional 15% off for the New Year’s Sale. 

I sat flabbergasted for a moment then picked up my laptop (afraid to touch anything) and raced into Lin’s office, shouting, “Look, look at this price … don’t touch anything.”

Her smile and then thumbs up said it all.

Long story short, I bought three of these pendants for a total of $991. 

As you might expect, I was off shopping for more light fixtures for the rest of the house — that ride just got wilder — I even bought a light fixture I nick-named “blimp!”

 So as you can see I’ve been spending a lot of time with my laptop.  Unfortunately it hasn’t been writing fiction, but it has been a wild ride on a learning curve for me.  My new adventures will be coming to a close before long and I’ll be back to spending time on my laptop with Det. Clark Phillips and the Detroit Thorn Birds as they confront the Detroit Mafia.  The surprises I encountered  Googling light fixtures have  sparked some ideas for wild rides in the stories I’m creating.  Hang in there with me.

SAX CLUB   https://www.amazon.com/Sax-Club-Thorn-Detroit-Confront/dp/163498322X 

 “Cheers to Readers Everywhere!”  Please share my blogs with your reader friends.

May 11, 2017
by lescochranblog
4 Comments

FROM WHEELER TO WAYNE STATE

Who would have ever thought — a farm kid from Indiana who was so pigeon-toed he wore corrective shoes; who attended eleven different elementary schools; who spoke with a lisp; who couldn’t read until the fifth grade; who had one leg shorter than the other; who was afraid to talk on the telephone, and who was so shy he rarely spoke in class — would end up as an author, retired on a mountain top in North Carolina.

While this kid from Wheeler, IN (population 500 and that’s stretching it) had plenty of reasons to grow up with nothing to show for his life, he had the same unyielding drive and commitment as do the thorn birds he writes about or should I say, “I write about.”

Life takes many turns—decisions at intersections and detours—unforeseen events that suggest new directions.  Not to bore you with the many roads I’ve traveled, my blogging absence has provided time to reflect about a wide array of thoughts. 

I’ve found the evolution of my interest in writing to be particularly instructive.  I had never thought about why I had become an author in my retirement years.  And so, as Paul Harvey would say, “here’s the rest of the story.”     

In reflection, it is clear that my interest in writing didn’t happen in a planned way.  In fact, it emerged because of my deficiencies.  I was such a slow reader I never finished the tests.  I was so shy I never participated in class discussions.  Writing term papers was a way to improve my grades.

I poured myself into writing. 

In high school term papers carried the day.  In college I received my highest grades in classes where term papers carried a significant weight in my final grade.  Unlike most students at the doctoral level, for me writing a dissertation was a “piece of cake.”  I breezed through it!

All of that aside, my latent interest in writing came alive in my doctoral studies.  I was fortunate to have an advisor who had one goal—produce leaders.  He was not a diploma mill grinder; fact is, he graduated one student every year or two, and in addition to teaching a full-load, he wrote a book a year.

It was an honor if he asked a student to edit an article or a chapter; whatever the contribution, my mentor would give “his student” full credit in his next publication.  After a couple of my own edits, my tutor G. Harold Silvius he asked me to edit a chapter in his upcoming book. 

Unthinking I unloaded a red pen on his “final” manuscript.  Low and behold, that was the beginning.  He was surprised that a doctoral student would commit such surgery; yet, he praised me.  From that point on, every week I wrote a chapter in my dissertation and edited a chapter for his book on the weekend. 

I loved it! 

Strange as it may seem, I learned to write by editing the works of others.  Still, I don’t know the proper literary terms for what I do, I just know it sounds right or it doesn’t.  Maybe if I was a better reader I’d know why the words sound right. 

Who knows?

And so it is—my life as a writer—a trip from my class of twenty-two at Wheeler High School (IN) to Wayne State University in Detroit where my experiences would give birth to my “Thorn Birds of Detroit” series. 

Ahead, you’ll learn even more … how another person reshaped my academic writing skills and honed them into a writer of fiction. 

May 4, 2017
by lescochranblog
4 Comments

Detroit Schools

Hi Friends and Readers.  As you know I have started posting blogs on a regular schedule but sometimes I enjoy a little change-up.  I hope you do as well.

My new series, Detroit Thorn Birds, is historical fiction about the Detroit Mafia. My wife and friends say I am quite historical myself – – and perhaps a little fictitious, too.

Anyway, back-in-the-day I taught high school in Detroit.The picture here shows me visiting Western High School located in the inner city.  I was surprised at how good the old school looks . . . I taught there in the 1960’s (see what I mean by historical?)

Even though I no longer live in Detroit I keep my eyes and ears open about happenings there as something might give me an inspiration for my storylines about the Detroit Mafia and the Thorn Birds.  Last week I saw an article about Dr. Nikolai Vitti, the new Superintendent of Detroit Schools and of course being an educator, I had a thought to share. Here’s my opinion piece published in the Detroit Daily on April 26, 2017.  

Detroit Schools