An Inspiring Young Man

Ol' Chumbucket with Raheem E. Allen at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, Oct. 31.
Ol’ Chumbucket with Raheem E. Allen at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, Oct. 31.

Before I move on from Saturday’s rainy Louisiana Book Festival, I wanted to mention someone I met there, whose kind of inspiring.

Raheem D. Allen is a young man, an 18-year-old freshman at LSU, who began writing novels since he was 13 years old. He has written and self-published a trilogy, “I Am Rick,” three stories about a teen who discovers he has super powers, though he’s only just learning how to use them. With the help of his friends, he has to overcome the plots of an evil madman and save the world.

Truth is, I have no idea if the books are any good. I toyed with buying one, but I’m trying to be very strict – I go to these things to sell, not to buy. If you come home with more books than you went with, you’re doing something wrong. It’s a business.

But I enjoyed talking with the kid. (Is “kid” the wrong word? I’m not being dismissive. At my age, “kid” refers to almost everyone I meet.) He’s very serious about his books. He writes a new story every summer, then spends several months editing and polishing before pubbing through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

He is confident. His table was stacked with books, a couple of hundred anyway, I’d guess. He had a whole spiel down, and it was difficult deflecting him from what he planned to say. He had a story to tell, and he was going to tell it. You have to admire that kind of confidence.

He also had a strong support system. His father was there, manning the table, taking care of business. You had to love seeing that.

I don’t know if he’s pursuing a literary life, never got the chance to ask what he’s studying now that he’s in college. But it was all there – The confidence, the support, the single minded dedication to the craft and to making it pay. I enjoyed meeting him and wish him well.

THIS JUST IN – Two new blurbs on my book, “Chrissie Warren Pirate Hunter.”

This from Willi Scheele from Germany – “I’ve bought and read your latest book, ‘Chrissie Warren.’ … It set me off in another world. It felt like standing in Caribbean sands of my own once more, seeing Chrissie, her mates and the pirates right before my eyes, worried and laughed with them. And surely, that´s what a good book is for. Your story is a delight, to read it was a great pleasure.”

Can an author ask for nicer words than these? Well, there’s this from Cindy Warner of Virginia:

“I have always loved stories of the adventurous girls who broke social customs and followed their hearts!! and I LOVED LOVED LOVED Chrissie Warren. Its a great story and well told with lots of action and adventure … I couldn’t put it down.”

It’s all the sweeter if you know who Cindy is. In the pirate community she’s known as Willoughby Caught, and she’s one of the organizers of the Blackbeard Festival in Hampton, Virginia. It’s one of the biggest pirate festivals in the country and they’ve invited me to take part next June. So she’s a good person to have in my corner.

Help Is Out There

We all have our regular websites and blogs that we visit as part of our morning routine. Sort of like reading the morning paper over your bowl of corn flakes, only now the morning paper is a news feed and the paper has no paper, just electrons glowing on your computer screen.

If you’re a writer, you probably follow several blogs by other writers. One that I highly recommend is the Killzone. It’s a dozen mystery writers who take turns posting tips on the craft, and while it’s sort of geared toward that genre, the advice is  usually applicable to writing in general. I don’t write mysteries, but I’ve gotten a lot out of the site, especially when it’s Joseph Scott Bell’s or Joe Moore’s turn in the biweekly rotation.

Bell is a very successful writer who also teaches the craft at workshops and in many excellent books. He often talks about how to make it as a writer (the long tail, is how he puts it.) And Moore has good advice on both writing and life, and he’s a funny guy.

In fact, I was prompted to mention this today because of Moore’s post this morning, which dovetailed indirectly with my post yesterday. I was talking about the travails of selling your book, and how you have to be willing to get out there. This is hard for a lot of writers because so many of us became writers specifically so that we could have a way to express ourselves creatively without having to deal with all those – you know – people. Moore talked today about “dressing for success.” Not sartorially, but about how acting successful can lead to success.

Anyway, it’s a good post. You can read it here.

Another thing I like about the site is that when you post a comment, whoever’s turn it was to write that day usually responds, sometimes surprisingly quickly.

The Killzone is a great place for advice and inspiration from people who have already achieved what we’re all after – success as writers. And they’re taking the time to give back.