April 9, 2018

A Late Bloomer

By Nick Nixon

I was a late bloomer in becoming an author. I spent 35 years building and managing Nixon & Associates, a graphic design firm. I had a staff of eight talented people and we served local, national and even a few international clients. Most of the writing I did in those 35 years was advertising copy. When I retired in 2010, I started writing humor articles for various publications, usually accompanied by one of my cartoons. 

I eventually joined a local writer’s group and I even contributed to their annual anthology, like most of the other members. Whatever I wrote always contained a good bit of humor. I was fortunate enough to have one of my articles included in an issue of Chicken Soup for the Soul. This led to local radio and TV interviews. After telling my host about my writing, cartooning, illustration work, doing voice overs for commercials, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, washing the cars, and feeding the dog and cat, she asked if there was anything else I wanted to do that I had not yet done. All of a sudden, without thinking or taking a deep breath, I blurted it out, “Every writer would like to write a book someday.” I had never thought about writing a book, let alone saying it out loud before.      

Honestly, I don’t know what was said after that. I think I was in shock after my “every writer wants to write a book someday” comment. I mentioned this remark at the next writers meeting and how surprised I was to actually have said it. “Well, have you?” Jeri, one of my fellow members asked. I was ready for that. I told her and the rest of the group I was thinking about writing a parody of The Maltese Falcon and calling it The Maltese Chicken. That got a laugh from everyone but Jeri. She greeted me at the door at our next monthly meeting with two books in her hands. Both were about how to write a detective novel. I read both of them and that did it. 

One night, as I was trying to go to sleep, my brain would not shut down and I got the idea for The Frame. Three months later I had written 86,000 words and considered my first novel complete. After some beta readers and two editors had gone through it, and I learned what it meant to tighten it up, I really did have a finished manuscript with a total of a little over 83,000 words. 

I immediately followed it up with Murder on the 13th Green, a sequel to The Frame, which was just released. I also changed the cover of The Frame to something more exciting and made a few improvements inside as well. It has just been re-released. They are both available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon as e-books and paperbacks. I am now working on The Main Street Murders. All three are part of the Peter English, PI Mystery series, and set in Memphis, TN during the post WWII 1940’s. I have been asked where I got my inspiration for these books. The answer: many Saturday afternoons in a darkened neighborhood movie theatre, as a kid, watching old, black and white film noir crime movies from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. I still love to watch them on TV. Even though I was born in the 1940s and grew up in Memphis in the 1950s and ‘60s, I have to do a lot of research for the ‘40s, which I enjoy almost as much as I do writing these books. Go ahead; read the books and fact check me. I dare you.

People who know me and have read The Frame tell me they think Peter English is my alter ego, I tell them that is not true. I am much better looking. 

I have learned that writing a novel is only the beginning. A good editor, especially one who challenges a writer, will make him or her a better writer and consequently turn out a better book. I have learned to read other writers’ books and listen to their advice. And if you are not a John Grisham, you have to do all the marketing and PR….not the publisher. I am still learning, and learning, and learning.
Nick Nixon, author of The Frame and Murder on the 13th Green, grew up in Memphis, TN and went to public school and college here. He is a retired advertising executive, who lives just outside Memphis with his wife, whom he refers to as his real estate typhoon. He is the father of five and grandfather of fourteen…with number fifteen in the oven. He plays golf very badly but sings pretty well with his church choir and in the shower. He is currently working on his third novel in the Peter English, PI Mystery series and he has a western also in the works. Nick has written six children’s books which he is currently illustrating, and he has illustrated two children’s books for another author. He is helping a fellow Christian write a book that will be published in about fifty languages and circulated worldwide, and he has just begun the process of narrating the Peter English novels for audio books. When asked what he does with his spare time, Nick says he still takes out the trash, mows the lawn, washes the cars, feeds the dog and cat, and still has time for family and friends. Social Media:  Website:  blog:  Facebook:  nicknixon,author  Twitter:  Nick Nixon (@nick_wits)

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