Give 'Em Hill: Never too old to start living the dreamBy Angela Hill Oakland Tribune
Sunday April 29, 2012
Richard Wren is living the dream.
Not the one where I'm in a really cramped elevator and the buttons don't work and the elevator misses my floor and just keeps going up and up and finally opens onto a super high rooftop and there's no railing around the edge and I freak out and wake up half dangling off the side of the bed, which surely doesn't mean anything at all.
No, I'm talking about the more pleasant dream of writing mystery novels, starting my own publishing company, making my own deadlines, occasionally sipping iced tea in the backyard and maybe building a planter or two for strawberries in the spring.
Richard, who resides in a lovely home in the Oakland foothills with his even lovelier high school-sweetheart wife, Betty (they both went to Oakland Tech), has not only accomplished all of the above, but is also one of those annoying people who has developed a happy regimen of writing at least three pages a day without fail, immersing himself in a world of characters, counterplots and copyrights and pounding out a book in a matter of months -- all while I toil away with barely two synapses to rub together, trapped by daily deadlines, constantly on the verge of bypassing them because the buttons on my keyboard don't work and ...
Anyway, Richard published his first book last fall, an Oakland-based mystery called "Casey's Slip" (available on Amazon in hard copy and e-book form). In addition, he already has a second novel in the bag ("Joshua's Revenge," to be released in June), plus a booklet on writing books, plus a third mystery in the works, plus a slick website, plus dozens of ideas "circling around" in his head at any given moment.
Left to his own literary devices, he can turn a phrase on a dime into a 400-page novel.
The plot thickens
Oh, and he's 86. Did I mention he's 86? Well, he's 86, and this is a brand new career for him after more than six decades in the insurance business specializing in estate-tax planning. He'd always wanted to write, always had a rambunctious imagination, coming up with fantastic bedtime stories when his four daughters were small -- things like how a wee hamburger yearned to be a beefy New York steak (maybe he could publish a children's book and call it Casey's Slab!). But he never took pen to paper back then.
Now with fingertips to keyboard, he has completely reinvented himself (he even pitched the headline for this column: "Old Fart Gets New Start") and is working toward his very own dream.
"My dream is to be known in Topeka," he said chuckling between sips of iced tea in his backyard, winking a sea-blue eye and showing off his new strawberry planter. "Or it could be Cleveland. That's good too," he said. "The point is just to have a legacy, a little bit of a reputation as a writer out there in the world."
So far, he's becoming well known locally through networking and book signings. But the day is young and so is Richard's spirit, so anything can happen.
Just as it does in his books.
Art imitates life?
"Casey's Slip" is about a happy-go-lucky guy who delivers sailboats up and down the coast, docks one day in Oakland's Fifth Avenue Marina and soon finds himself knee-deep in the midst of murder charges, biker gangs and turmoil.
Now they say you should write what you know and, surprisingly, Richard knows about all of these things. (Some, like the murder charges, only vicariously through a son-in-law police detective -- whew!) But he certainly knows Oakland firsthand, having lived here since age 3. Plus he and Betty are seasoned sailors, having owned four boats over the years.
And a good friend of his is a Hell's Angel.
That one requires some explanation.
Turns out Richard and Betty always kept their boats at that Fifth Avenue Marina, which if you don't know, is filled with, oh, let's say, free spirits -- it's a little bit artist colony, a little bit ThunderDome. At the time, there were a couple of Hell's Angels on live-aboards, and "for some reason, nobody ever stole anything around there, so it was a good place to keep your boat," Richard said. One of those gentlemen became a lifelong pal and is the basis for a character in the book. "Fortunately, he got a kick out of it," Richard said.
Well, if Richard can churn out the books, then maybe I can too.
Yes, I will get right on it.
Not today or the next because, well, I have to go to the store and then, let's see, wash my hair and then I'll probably have to go to the store again and ...
But at least I can dream.
SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2012I will be at "A Great Good Place for Books" in Montclair at 7:00 P.M. until about 9:30. Primarily the subject will be about my experiences in writing, editing, proof-reading, self publishing and marketing my books and the resulting "How To" booklet. We will be welcoming any "budding" author, along with anyone interested in writing to come and visit. I will also sign copies of Casey's Slip and take advance orders for JOSHUA'S REVENGE, due to be released in June, 2012.
A Great Good Place for Books
6120 LaSalle Avenue,
SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2012I will be at TERZETTO CUISINE CAFE, in Moraga from 10:00 A.M. to about 2:30 in the afternoon. Subject will be the same as on May 19th. (Terzetto's is a great destination for breakfast,lunch or dinner, if you're so inclined.)
Richard recently sat down to discuss his novel Casey's Slip and his author's guide K.I.S.S.
It’s progressing rapidly now that JOSHUA is going to print.
For me it’s a lot of fun writing a new book. Strange and interesting things happen totally unexpectedly. For example, I knew before I started writing Justice for Joshua, exactly how it would start and that a startling thing would happen in the early pages. However, at about page fifty, suddenly and without any warning, a new character appeared, totally unexpected and unplanned. On one page he wasn’t there, on the next he was, and now he has become an important part of the unfolding story.
As I continually say in my “How to” book KISS, (Write Your Fiction Book, Your Novel Easily), writing fiction is just like life. You start and then things just happen, like life itself. You never know when and where you might meet someone that turns out to be very important in your life.
I expect Justice for Joshua will be ready for print before the end of the year, maybe sooner. I’ll keep you posted.
WRITE YOUR FICTION BOOK, YOUR NOVEL, EASILY.
Highly acclaimed as being a down to earth, nuts and bolts, succinct, ultimately practical booklet. KISS (How to Write and Publish Your Fiction Novel) has been selected as required reading at University level Writing and Publication courses. Not a come-on for other books, this is a short, inexpensive treatise that includes detail after detail which will enable you to start your book, write your book, punctuate your book, edit your book, and publish your book, using specific and included sources in a way no other guide book does.
At age 82 I started writing my first novel. 3 Years later it was done. Now at 86, I’ve finished my 2nd novel and well into my 3rd. My first book is both an e-book and a paper-back and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at your favorite book store.
How did I do my 2nd and 3rd books so quickly? I ignored a lot of conventional advice and developed my own cheaper, faster and much more effective method of writing your first mystery novel. Accepted for use at University level writing and publishing courses, my plan is now available in booklet or download form.
Finally, I common-sensed my own plan. It worked. In 6 months, I wrote, edited, proof-read and published my 2nd book, on my own. I became my own publisher. (Poor Richard Publishers). My plan is down to earth, gritty, effective and specific. I even give you a specific beginning for your first chapter if “first pageitis” is your problem.
Entitled "KISS" (Keep It Simple and Successful), my booklet has been selected as a teaching aide at University level writing and publishing courses.
You can purchase my booklet for $5.95 (paperback shipped to you) or for $4.00 (digital download) . It's not a vehicle to sell you my other books. There are no advertisements. The only things in the booklet are the tools to your writing success.
HI GANG: CONTEST, CONTEST, CONTEST. This contest is for your fun and my benefit. My next book is done, but needs a cover and it's eluding me. Ideas are solicited, Please!! Here's a brief summary of what’s in the story. JOSHUA, a Yosemite Park Ranger with concealed but super-human physical abilities. Killing and eviscerating of Park bears for Chinese medicine, Karate, Kung Fu, Chinese youth Gangs, Ninja, San Francisco Chinatown, Yosemite , murders, kidnappings and revenge are involved. Ideas?, Ideas?, Ideas?. A cover that says, "BUY ME, I'M EXCITING!" You give me the idea, we’ll supply the art work. First prize?? How about a box of left-over SEES Chocolates?? RICHARD. (RICHARD L. WREN BLOG or POOR RICHARD PUBLISHERS BLOG.)
Richard L. Wren
IN HIS NEW CAREER AS AN AUTHOR, RICHARD DESCRIBES HIMSELF AS TALL, DARK, HANDSOME AND A LIAR. A FOURTH GENERATION CALIFORNIAN, A SAILOR, FATHER OF FOUR BEAUTIFUL AND SUPPORTIVE DAUGHTERS, AND HUSBAND TO ONE OF THE BEST WIVES OF ALL TIME. [MORE]