How to Write a Novel!

News & Resources

How to Write a Novel!

News & ResourcesLet's Learn Together!   I'm here to help the new writer. Let me know if you are a veteran and you go to the head of the line. I'm here to help you write your novel...edit your novel...construct your novel...and market your novel.  Just think...

The Writing Journey Begins

The Writing Journey Begins

My Goal is to Write Many Novels and Help a few Writers Along the Way I first started writing as a young Infantry Officer sitting alone in the back of the Officer's club while drinking a cold beer. I worked seventy hours a week. I didn't own a TV, had no social life,...

Write and Plan your Fiction Novel an Architect and Builder

Write and Plan your Fiction Novel an Architect and Builder

You Must Plan Out your Novel and Build it Step by Step!   I had a degree...I had my Masters of Science...I thought I should know how to write a novel. I certainly had read enough of them. I started to look over my favorite fiction novels and I went through them...

Why Did I Write My First Chapter of Gunny Mac Like I Did?

Why Did I Write My First Chapter of Gunny Mac Like I Did?

What Was the Purpose of My First Chapter?         My first chapter was designed to do the following: Introduce my main character Gunny Mac and his best friend Gunny Wojohowitz Introduce the reader to the setting (Guadalcanal and Hawaii).  ...

Let’s Learn Together! 


I’m here to help the new writer. Let me know if you are a veteran and you go to the head of the line. I’m here to help you write your novel…edit your novel…construct your novel…and market your novel.  Just think of me as your coach and mentor.

So you want to be a Writer? Answer Nine Questions

So you want to be a Writer? Answer Nine Questions

A New Writer Must Answer Nine Questions


Millions of people have written millions of books, some good, some bad. I have paid good money to buy books and I quit reading them after twenty pages, no big deal. These books were published by big names and big publishing companies and they were lousy. Your book is just as good or better!

I will guide you through three phases: Construction of a novel, writing a novel, and marketing a novel. Have fun.

So before I begin, I would like to set some ground rules. 

How long will it take me to write my novel?

Rome wasn’t built in a day…either will your novel. It probably will take a year or more. My first novel took five years to write.

How much time will it take to write my novel?

I wrote while employed and time was as scarce as hen’s teeth. No whining about how hard your life is. Set a schedule when and where to write. In the beginning, I recommend two hours a day and build it up until you are tired or unproductive.

How do I start writing my novel?

You don’t just start writing the great American novel. That is plain stupid. You need a map, a compass, and knowledge. I will show you how to map out your novel, head you in the right direction and impart some knowledge.

What must I have to be a novel writer?

You must have a passion to learn how to write a novel. It is a learning experience…enjoy it.


What will I cover in my posts?


The First Phase. The construction of a Novel

The first phase I will cover is the Construction Phase. A novel is constructed just like a house. A writer is like an architect…you must know the rules of designing. A writer is also a builder and cannot build without blueprints. A writer has to do both. I will cover Concept and Premise, Chapter construction, Scene construction, the Stages of a fiction novel, Plotting, the Logic of construction.

The Second Phase. The Writing of a Novel.

The second phase will cover, grammar, pronoun usage, dialogue, punctuation, showing versus telling, paragraph usage, editing, and much more.

The Third Phase will cover Marketing

Should I self publish? Cover selection? Editing? Formatting? Selecting the proper aggregator for self-publishing? How to market your paperback, ebook, or audiobook. Costs associated with self-publishing. marketing services available. Cost?


Cost of self-publishing $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

It takes money to write a novel. Sorry to have to tell you that, but it is true. So if you don’t have any money work and save some up. My first novel cost about $5,000. I will go into the costs in a later post.

Ego: Say No to being a Narcissist 

Keep your ego in check. Someone asked me with an excited voice…”How does it feel to be a published author? I said it felt just like mowing my five acres…tired, but content. Just like I felt after an infamous Marine Corp forced march of twenty miles in 3.5 hours, tired but glad I didn’t fall out. Be proud for a few seconds and get back to writing.

Learn to Love Criticism

Learn to take criticism…accept criticism…thank people who criticize you…smile and beg people to criticize you. if you don’t like criticism go do something else.

Life is unfair…get used to it!

I grew up in a tough atmosphere for a kid so I just smile when I hear people carry on how unfair life is…that may be true but you just have to learn to be the referee. You make the rules to live by…you chart out your course…you work harder than anyone around you…when you get knocked down smile and get back on your feet. Keep your faith in God above all else because truly you will never be alone. Never harden your heart…live a life that revolves around helping people. We are not really happy until we achieve and overcome events in life. That is how God made us.

Why do you write?

Its a good idea to know why you write. For fun, to make a point, to make money, to write a series, for fame? Why do you write?


Let’s get started and learn all we can. I’m far from an expert but I have learned much I will share with anybody who has a dream.

Feel free to contact me I will always answer back and help you. That’s just the way I am.



The Writing Journey Begins

The Writing Journey Begins

My Goal is to Write Many Novels and Help a few Writers Along the Way

I first started writing as a young Infantry Officer sitting alone in the back of the Officer’s club while drinking a cold beer. I worked seventy hours a week. I didn’t own a TV, had no social life, and I was in the field most of the time learning my craft as a platoon leader. I published my first article in Leatherneck magazine for five dollars. The editor said I had some talent and should continue writing. Unfortunately, my military life consumed me, and writing went by the wayside. I wrote many pages throughout those years and saved them in hopes one day I would write about my experiences.

It wasn’t till I retired I started to write again and published my first novel, Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Chinatown. I embarked on a second career and wrote when the urge hit me. It took me five years to finish this novel. It was five years of learning. I read twenty books on writing fiction, I read every blog on writing, listened to hundreds of hours of writing podcasts, watched interviews of famous writers, went to writing conferences, joined paid writers groups. I wrote about one million words, encompassing 55 edits and literally hundreds of changes. As a  novice writer I did it…well, let’s just say I was the best at making all the mistakes. Somethings about writing I just could not understand and it cost me time and sweat. The only way I escaped the cruel fate of my own stupidity was to continue to practice writing…read a little more…practice…study a little more…practice writing…and so on….

I found out that most of the information on the internet and airways on writing had only one purpose. That was to up-sell me on their products. They gave just enough information to hook you to buy their products. The products gave you just enough information to buy their next product. So I laughed and quit wasting my time with most of them.

My website has no up-sells and I genuinely want to help the new writer. My advice? Read what you want, take want you can, and develop a passion for writing. I hope I can help you in some small way.


I am always available to assist writers with questions. My new novel Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Cleveland will be out soon.

Best regards,


Author, Coach, and Friend to all authors.

Write and Plan your Fiction Novel an Architect and Builder

Write and Plan your Fiction Novel an Architect and Builder

You Must Plan Out your Novel and Build it Step by Step!


I had a degree…I had my Masters of Science…I thought I should know how to write a novel. I certainly had read enough of them. I started to look over my favorite fiction novels and I went through them with different colored pens. Blue for narration, yellow for dialogue, green for different tags ie. he said, she said, etc., etc. I circled adverbs because they were supposed to be the evil of writing. I used purple for any information on the setting. I had the most trouble with point of view (POV). It reminded me of math….some problems I just could not grasp easily. Then after doing fifty problems and practicing I got it and then wondered what was so hard about that math problem. Then I would look at all the different colors to try and figure out what percentage each of these was in each of my genre novels. Then I would go to each scene in each chapter.
The lesson I learned is this… I took too much time trying to learn how to write by listening to gurus. I spent numerous hours reading and listening to them only to understand they never gave me the answers…just enough information to get me to their up-sell. I wasted much time chasing down worthless information.

I do want to tell you that there is a plan all fiction stories must follow according to the genre you are writing in. No this will not impinge on your creativity, but enhance it. You must understand that you are:

The Architect and the Builder of Your Novel 

What does that mean? Let me explain it this way. Let’s say you are constructing a new home. (A writer constructs a novel). An architect designs the building to adhere to zoning, building codes, material specifications, types of material, and placement. He also designs sets of plans so the builder can construct the building as the owner wants, yet follow all the rules to avoid having to tear down code violations at great cost and waste of time. Once the plans are complete the builder can build the home to the satisfaction of the owner. (The novel will have to please the reader of that genre).

So… the Architect designs the building and makes plans.

So…the Writer as an Architect uses Concept and Premise to design his book in a genre.

So… the Builder takes the Plans and Builds the home.

So…the writer then uses the same plans that every Successful Author used to write his book.

What plans are these you might ask? Now I didn’t think up these beautiful parts of a novel that must be included in your successful novel. In fact, they have been around since people started writing, but one man put it all together in such a beautiful way, yet I still had problems following his plans because it is not easy to learn how to write fiction unless you are Larry Brooks at Story

My next blog we will start to write the great American novel.


Why Did I Write My First Chapter of Gunny Mac Like I Did?

Why Did I Write My First Chapter of Gunny Mac Like I Did?

What Was the Purpose of My First Chapter?





My first chapter was designed to do the following:

Introduce my main character Gunny Mac and his best friend Gunny Wojohowitz

Introduce the reader to the setting (Guadalcanal and Hawaii).



Introduce the reader to the bravery and character of Gunny Mac

Introduce the reader to how Gunny Mac was injured and why he had to get a medical discharge.

Introduce the reader to the fact that the First Marines Division on Guadalcanal might be defeated.

Scene (1) Edson thinks Gunny Mac is dead but finds him alive and gets him medical help.

Scene (2) Gunny Mac gets airlifted to an aircraft carrier and is transferred to the Naval hospital at Pearl. Designed this scene to get Mac to Honolulu and introduce the reader to Seadog and Nurse Lt. Van Deer.

Each chapter and scene has a purpose to drive the story forward. Each chapter and scene has a beginning, middle, and end. My first chapter is rather long for my novels. It is twelve pages long but I wrote to accomplish many things and introduce three important characters. I also wrote it so people would know exactly how tough Gunny Mac is and how he reacts to combat.

Beginning of Chapter 1: This shows how desperate the situation on Guadalcanal was.

Middle: Shows the reader how tough the fight for Edson’s Ridge was and the heroic exploits of Gunny Mac and introduces Gunny Wojo Mac’s best friend.

Ending: Mac appears dead but is found alive by Col.Edson and flown to an aircraft carrier for treatment. The ending… introduces LT. Van Deer and Seadog and the fact Mac is barely alive in the hospital. He still may die.

Till our next post!


Author, Coach, Writing mentor

Step 1 Designing the First Chapter of a Novel

Step 1 Designing the First Chapter of a Novel

What You Need to Know About Your Novel Before You Begin Writing.

I told all of you I would be using my first novel to help teach this beginner’s writing course to you. Many people in my writer’s groups have asked established writers, “how do I start my novel?” This seems to be a troubling question for many.

I will go into what I was thinking as I wrote the first chapter.

Here is what I knew about Gunny Mac Private Detective before I started writing.


  • I knew the genre…sort of a hard-boiled private detective series.

  • I knew my protagonists name, Gunny Mac.

  • I wanted to write about the 1940s and in an exotic setting.

  • I wanted to pattern my style of writing like Raymond Chandler.

  • I wanted Gunny Mac to have  some side kicks on his journey as a private eye.

  • I knew as a new writer I should write about my passion…World War Two and the United States Marine Corps.

  • I knew I wanted a Jesuit priest in my story and a dog.

  • I knew I had to have people seeking redemption. We all need redemption.

As you can tell I had somewhat of an idea started but how could I find a story in all this? So I started researching the beginning of WW Two in 1942. I started researching Hawaii and Guadalcanal. We were at a desperate crossroads  and I wanted to see if there was a story somewhere during this time period. After several hours of research I stumbled onto something interesting. President Roosevelt felt the First Marine Division was going to lose Guadalcanal and Hawaii invaded. Actually got my hands on the original 500 page report.

Then I found out he planned on collecting and burning all the American money in Hawaii and replacing it with bills with the word Hawaii on the back of each bill so the Japanese could not use the money to finance their war operations.

Bingo! I had my plot. I surmised if this was the case how many people would attempt to steal this money that was going to be destroyed…was it actually stealing money… that was going to be destroyed? No victim!

My next step…developing my Premise and Concept. 

Concept: What would happen if President Roosevelt collected and burned all the money in Hawaii to keep the Japanese from getting it?

Premise: What would happen if four badly wounded veterans are the only ones able to stop, corrupt officials and gangsters from stealing the money?

Wow! I have a possible great novel!

Till the next post!


Author, teacher, coach


Interview for Red Headed Book Lover

1.Thank you for joining us at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.


I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio in a Slovak family. My mother never finished the eighth grade to help support her family and my dad did not finish high school because he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. I won’t go into detail, just say I didn’t have much of a child’s life between G 7 and graduation from high school.

I grew up shy and introverted. I made a vow to myself to live a happy life after I was emancipated.

I joined the Marine Corps and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was nice to be around real men who guided me and helped me flourish and grow into a young man.

I served for two decades and later went on to become a high school teacher, guidance counselor, and teacher evaluator, and head baseball coach. Along the way, I married my college sweetheart and the rest is history as they say.


2. Could you please tell us, readers, about your book and what inspired you to write your book.


Firstly, I would say there are not enough books out there about the 1940s and 1950s Private Eyes, so I decided to write a series about one. I guess it’s considered old school.

My father worked in a factory on Coit Rd. in Cleveland, Ohio. He would come home at midnight from his shift smelling of the factory floor grease and we would fry balcony sandwiches together, smeared with yellow mustard. We would turn on channel eight and he would introduce me to the gangster and detective movies of the 1940s and 1950s.

The likes of Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorrie, and Richard Widmark. Movies like “Casablanca”, “Where the Side Walk Ends”, the “Maltese Falcon”, “Double Indemnity”, and “To have and have Not”.

Tough, Private Eyes like Sam Spade, Michael Shayne, Charlie Chan, Mickey Spillane, and the Continental Ops.

I loved those beautiful movies and characters. I miss my time with my dad.

I simply got tired of reading about the same detectives in modern writing about some guy cutting out eyes and hearts and leaving them as calling cards. Far too much violence and not enough humor and character development.


3. What would your advice be to aspiring authors?


Wow, this is a tough one! I’m far from an expert but I have learned much in the last five years and I don’t want people to think I’m a know it all but here goes nothing.

Novel writing is like learning to play a musical instrument…it takes time and practice to play somewhat well and simply hundreds of hours practicing to become an expert. Writing is no different.

Grammarly kept a record of my words I wrote and rewrote and it was well over one million, actually 1.2 million to achieve an 89,465-word novel. It amazes me when I hear writers say they have a best seller in them but have not taken the time to learn their craft and just start writing.

Would you have a person build your house without the knowledge to pound a nail or an architect who didn’t understand building codes and how to write up house plans?

How did I do it?

I read over 400 books in my lifetime in just my genre. You must read what you want to write!

  • I took my favorite authors and copied my favorite chapters word for word to get a feel on how to write a scene and chapter. Tough and boring to do that, but I was a Marine grunt. LOL.
  • I went to writer’s conferences, read twenty books on novel construction, dialogue, and plot construction.
  • I joined professional groups in my genre.
  • I searched the internet for writing gurus.
  • I found them worthless because they gave you just enough information to buy their product which I didn’t do, same with writing podcasts which consisted of them talking about everything except serious writing.
  • I searched for friends who would criticize my writing and I said thank you for making me a better writer. If you can’t accept criticism, you are in the wrong business.
  • I edited my book 55 times,
  • rewrote whole chapters, and changed scenes.
  • I would look at a scene and say gosh I love it but it is wrong and I would smile and rip it out!

For a novice like me…it costs money to self-publish.

  • Maybe some people can do everything themselves and are extremely talented not me. I hear indie writers ask how can I do this for free or at little cost?
  • Good luck! Budget at least $5,000.00 to self-publish.
  • My cover cost $450.00
  • editing $1,000.00
  • formatting $150.00
  • ISBN’s (ten) $445.00
  • Professional organizations $150.00
  • professional books $300.00
  • developmental editing (this saved me) $1,800.00
  • and audiobook…$450.00
  • Book trailer $40.00

. This does not include money to market your book.

Aspiring writers must understand this…you do not need college degrees to write a book…but you must have a passion to learn.

If you lack the money to self-publish… write and learn your craft while you save money from one job…two jobs or three jobs.

Anybody can write a novel but you have to have the guts to finish one.

I laugh when I tell new writers with dreams… it’s not that hard to write a book! There are millions of books by millions of authors!

The world is full of wishers and not enough doer’s Most of all have fun writing and learning!


4. In your opinion what is the most important thing about a book?


Interesting question…I’ll answer it from my heart.


I like character-driven plots! Characters that I relate to who are searching for redemption because we are all fallen creatures in some capacity. Characters that possess no superman qualities or abilities, but struggle like me in life.

No magic bullets, that suddenly make their life sweet and nice.

Characters who know they are human above all else yet struggle with everything they possess to be good and not to spiral out of control and destroy everything in their path.

I like characters who chart their course in life based on not being popular but content in the knowledge they are living a good life.

Like a priest told me once… it’s not our job as Christians to leave the world a better place but leave the world a better Christian.

Being a good person entails making tough decisions in life that often leave you standing alone against the crowd.


5. What is your writing process like?


I write about fifteen hours a week…some days one- hour other days much more. No rhyme or reason. What fits my busy schedule.

I develop my concept and premise first. I then use logical progression.

In Catholic school, Sister Rose taught us logic which didn’t make logical sense to me. LOL. Since my novels are character-driven I use their human traits to dictate how they react to events. This can only happen if you know and love your characters.

(look up logic formulas if interested) Without going into logic formulas; it goes like this. (A) happens…logically several things may happen? Pick one… after that happens several things could happen pick one that makes sense. Keep doing that and that will fill in your plot.

I edit each page as I go along and then continue to edit because the direction of my story changes as my characters react to various events they put themselves in. This helps me develop my plot continuously.

I don’t know the ending. My characters develop my story within my concept and premise.

I don’t believe in writer’s block which gets a lot of writers mad at me. My opinion is if you know yourself… your story and characters will react in a way that makes you sad or happy!

6. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before writing a book?


A writer friend of mine said, “Write what you know about and have a passion for.” I know the Marine Corp inside and out because I was a Marine and I l loved the history of WW ll and their exploits. My dad fought in the toughest battles of WW ll and he told me about his time in service.

I researched early WW ll history and found a gem I thought would lead to a great book. Roosevelt deciding to burn all the money in Hawaii so the Japanese could not get our money to finance their fight against us if Guadalcanal fell and replace it with money with Hawaii written across the back of each bill. Worthless to the Japanese if they invaded the islands.

I spent about two more hours researching the Cosa Nostra in the 1930s and 1940s.

My new novel…Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Cleveland was a lot of fun. Once again, I used the information I knew. I grew up in Cleveland, I know the Catholic Church…I know the Polish and Slovenian cultures. I’m having a blast

Also, don’t forget my love of the hard-boiled noir private eye genre of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, and Dashiell Hammett!


7. Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you write when you feel inspired?

Good question. Being inspired is like getting motivated. I don’t believe in those two words

Inspiration and motivation are temporary, to say the least.

That is why you must have a passion to be a writer! Because I have a passion to write I’m inspired and motivated every day. I can’t wait to get up and write. If I had to wait to get inspired or motivated it would be a cold day in hell before I wrote anything!

Writing is so much a part of me I feel lost without working at my craft. Like I’m not doing what God intended me to do. It’s similar as I felt when I was a Marine on active duty…I couldn’t wait to wear my uniform with pride and do my job.


8.Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?

Yes, I read about four books a month. Reading is one of the most pleasurable pastimes I have in my life.

Some of my favorite authors: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, Stephen Hunter, Lee Child, Nelson Demille, Preston & Child, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Leon Uris, Michael Connelly just to name a few.


9. Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?


“Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Cleveland”, will in out in three months. I have half-finished a novel, “Between Heaven and Hell”, about the drug war and my time in an intelligence agency. I’m also working on a novel about the baseball legend Ty Cobb.

My Interview in the Big Thrill Magazine

It’s the onset of World War II. President Roosevelt is collecting and burning the currency in Hawaii in case the Japanese invade. Corrupt military officers, gangsters, and police officials are poised to steal as much of that money as they can. A badly wounded Marine Gunnery Sergeant and three other wounded veterans team up to stop them.

Got it? Good. That’s the plot of Steven Walker’s crime thriller, Gunny Mac, Private Detective—Trouble in Chinatown (Seadog Publishing, October 2020.)

This novel clearly took a lot of research. I asked Steven to talk a bit about that.

“I stumbled upon the fact about Roosevelt wanting to burn the money,” he began, “because he felt that the First Marine Division was going to be defeated on Guadalcanal which would leave Hawaii free to be invaded by the Japanese and our resources used against us. I downloaded the actual five-hundred-page official after-action report on what took place during this crucial time. I spent about eighty hours of research online and went through my personal military library. I knew a lot about this time period and noir private detective fiction.”

Steven’s father was a military man. How did that play into the writing process?

“My dad was a terrific storyteller and I grew up laughing all the time. He relayed to me many personal experiences in Hawaii like drinking as much beer as possible, eating French fries, and throwing up all over the street. He was eighteen years old. They trained in Maui and lived in tents to get ready for Iwo Jima. He told me much about the Marines in 1943 through 1947.

“My own years in the Marines shaped me and allowed me to write what I know. I can still feel the jungle heat and humidity, the smell of wet canvas, jungle rot, and, of course, all the good and bad characters, officers and enlisted. All my characters are men I knew, including Padre McCaffery, who drank bourbon like water, smoked cigars like they were free, was brave, and loved God.”

Not being a military man myself, I asked Steven what makes a good Gunnery Sergeant a good P.I.? I could feel his smile.

“Great question!” he said. “In the 1930s and ’40s, Marines who made it to this rank were harder than woodpecker lips. They had fought insurrections, guarded mail trains; the Marine Corps was their family. Like the gunnery sergeants of today, they were the backbone of the Corp: they led men, trained them, and disciplined them. They’re a cagey lot, prone to rebellious streaks, profane, yet profess a love of people. They have a code of honor and won’t break it. They will walk a mile out of their way to take care of bad guys and bend over backward to help a young Marine. They’re smart about the ways of the world (and often kept me out of trouble.) They will fight until they die, and live life to the fullest. They’re also the funniest people I’ve ever known. Good humor comes from men who are in a bad situation and make fun of it.”

Sounds like someone I’d want watching my six.

Trouble in Chinatown is filled with enough bad guys for two books. What makes a good antagonist and what does he or she bring out in our hero?

“First,” he explained, “I don’t like terrible, horrible villains. I feel they must have some good and not totally dark like today’s modern villains whereby in the third chapter they are cutting hearts out and mailing them to people. I stop reading. My villains are more like Casper Gutman in the Maltese Falcon: fat, sneaky, bad, but with a sense of humor and some good. Then there’s Johnny Friendly, the gangster in On the Water Front. Lee J. Cobb plays the bad guy who uses other people to bully and kill him. In the beginning, he is the successful gangster, but by the end, the beast within him—the wounded animal—becomes clearly visible, as he’s revealed to be as human and vulnerable as the poor people he exploited.

“Just as our hero is about to turn bad,” Steven continued, “and maybe lose his soul, he is saved by the villain’s cruelness. He has a choice to stay decent or turn bad. Because he has a code of honor, he stays on the right side of being human.”

While reading this novel, it became quite clear to me that Steven was not just a fan, but also a student of noir fiction. I asked the obvious: Who are his major influences?

“Brett Halliday, a pseudonym for Davis Dresser; I love his wisecracking funny detective, Michael Shayne. Mickey Spillane, who wrote about Mike Hammer. Earl Derr Biggers who introduces us to Charlie Chan, the Chinese detective in Honolulu. Samuel Dashiell Hammett—Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, and the Continental Op. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, whose FBI agent, Aloysius Xingu L. Pendergast, is one of my favorite detectives.

“And my dear father, of course, who introduced me to all these great writers and the films they inspired. Thanks, Dad.”

I knew that Steven is, like me, a huge baseball fan. I wanted his opinion on how a good novel is like a good baseball game.

“You and I are on the same wavelength,” he told me. “First of all, it is an American game and noir detective fiction is all-American. Both have deep roots in our culture. Baseball starts slow, sometimes like a novel, and the tension builds until you are eating your fingers to the quick. Your heart is beating a mile a minute and you are standing, waiting for your hero to hit it out of the park. I believe it’s the most dramatic sport in our culture. The same with a novel: conflict and tension build until you must have a satisfying ending with your hero saving the day. When I hear a baseball game over the radio, my heartbeat goes down and a peacefulness comes over me. A good novel leaves me in that same pleasant state of euphoria.”

As for Steven’s personal journey as a writer…

“It took me five years to be a writer,” he said. “I fought it. I didn’t want to put in the work. I was working full time and just played around with my ideas. I didn’t know what I was doing until I found out about the concept and premise. (Thanks Larry Brooks!) When I understood those two ideas, I wrote my novel in nine months.

“(With Trouble in Chinatown) I had fifty-five rewrites and countless edits. I realized I had to stop tweaking it because a writer is never satisfied with what they have written. I have the sequel—Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Cleveland—half complete. Once I had my characters, they wrote the book for me. Someone asked me how I felt about finishing and publishing my novel. Like I feel after finishing an infamous twenty-mile forced hike in the Marine Corps in a little more than three hours—tired, but thankful I didn’t fall out.”

Finally, I asked, “How about your dream panel at ThrillerFest?”

“Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Dean Koontz, Stephen Hunter, Preston and Child, and Nelson Demille. The subject? What makes the quintessential American detective and how does he or she relate to your heroes?”

How to Choose an Artist for Your Novel Cover

How to Choose an Artist for Your Novel Cover

Why pick Noah Regan to design your book cover?

He designs with the writer in mind and has the talent to view your work through his eyes. He paints with passion and a sense of duty to the novel. He takes those thoughts and wrings out a true depiction of what your novel says to the reader. I interviewed Noah for this important section. Your book cover tells the world if you are a serious writer. In between questions, I will bring in some of Noah’s creations…including my own cover. I think his answers will help you in your important process of picking a book cover designer.

Here is my logo Noah designed for my Publishing company. An image of my beautiful Rosebud. The lab I miss with all of my heart. Noah hit a homerun here. When I saw this painting my eyes filled with tears.


As you can see his talent is quite evident. he captured Rosebud as she was. Majestic and caring. He put a glint in her eyes which accentuated her intelligence and bravery.

Thanks Noah!

Here is the interview I promised you.

Noah Regan

I always loved to draw since I was five. Part of my lifetime goal was to be an illustrator as well as a cartoonist. Thankfully, my career allows me to do both (I’m an editorial cartoonist for the Waterloo Courier). I went to school for commercial art but I wasn’t really satisfied with the education I received. I eventually got a job in graphic design (which is a far cry from illustration) and worked at an advertising agency for six years. I got burnt out with that and left that job for a more hands-on job (literally). I worked in construction for the next handful of years, all while learning illustration and digital painting on the weekends through online courses. 

Then, about three years ago I was confident in my skills enough to leave my day job and to commercial art full time. I work everyday (part of the days on weekends), and if there’s ever a tight deadline then I find myself working in the wee hours of the morning which sounds like it’s a pain, but thinking back on my short career thus far, some of my happiest memories are from working at 1:00 in the morning. 

There are plenty of times I don’t feel like painting since it’s incredibly tedious and quite frankly boring. But, I’m motivated to do it when I’m working on fun projects (like your own) or when I have a great idea of my own that I want to bring to life. It’s incredibly rewarding to see what you have in your head manifest on the screen. Also, I appreciate that I get breaks from it when I make editorial cartoons. Those are fast and fun and one doesn’t have to get mired in the details. 

When it comes to book covers, I feel like they’re incredibly important. I listen to quite a lot of audiobooks because with my job, (I always need something to keep my mind company while I work). I find myself scrolling through audiobooks to listen to and found that I’ve chosen books in the past simply because they had a great cover. It’s incredibly unfair to great books which have bad covers, but what do you do? I see a cool cover and that makes me want to read the teaser for the book, and the next thing you know, I’m listening to it!

Though, what specifically makes for a great cover is hard to say. some of the books I listen to have a location on the cover, some have faces on the cover, many feature people with their backs to you on the cover (which is a popular thing right now) and some have just words. I think it’s less what’s on the cover and more about it being properly executed and professional looking. 

As for designing your cover, Steve, when you mentioned you wanted an old detective paperback-looking cover, my head swam with a lot of ideas. I’m a huge fan of golden age illustrators like Dean Cornwell, Tom Lovell, Harry Anderson, Gil Elvgren, and this type of cover would be right up their alley, so I was excited to work on it. I took it a step further and gave the cover a gritty appearance. I wanted the book cover to look like it would be at home in one of those rotating wire paperback book displays in a drug store sixty years ago. 

I usually come up with my ideas when I’m away from my desk. It’s often while I’m walking, or on the rowing machine, or treadmill. I can’t sit and think about the composition, I get distracted too easily. But, if I’m moving my body, ideas seem to materialize and I get excited and type in notes into my cell phone as quickly as possible. Coming up with the composition is usually the most fun part of the job. The hard work comes in trying to make it look as good as you envisioned. 

Rockwell is a huge inspiration to me. He was not only great at creating perfectly balanced compositions, but his attention to detail is incredible (see Shuffleton’s Barbershop) and he was able to tell a little story visually with every painting he did. 

I’m always up for working on book covers! You can check out my work at my portfolio website Also, I’m represented by the agency IllustrationX. On my profile page ( there’s a “contact” button where one can chat with one of my representatives. Those ladies are very professional and nice and will answer any question you have.