Frederick Fullerton

Meet The Writer of Unwritten Books

It seems like I’ve known author Frederick Fullerton, or Fred as I call him, forever, well, since we attended the same college. Fred wrote poetry and short stories. But I always knew he had at least one novel in him, and he did — The Writer of Unwritten Books. And now, his debut novel is available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon. Here’s the link.

What’s The Writer of Unwritten Books about? Here’s the book blurb.

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A story within a story … What happens when an author toils to write a book and is plagued by voices inside his head that comment on what he writes?

It is December 2000 in Providence, RI. Christian Williams suffers from writer’s block as he struggles with “W,” a novel he conceived as a young expat.

His friend and mentor, Mick, an alcoholic cantankerous poet and literary critic, designates him “the greatest writer of unwritten books.” Christian’s alter ego, whom he dubs Buttinski, critiques the writing with biting comments, which are also spot on.

To escape Buttinski and Mick, Christian travels to Europe to revisit his past and resurrect memories that provide more material for his novel.

After returning to the States, Christian finishes writing his book, but it remains unpublished.

Retired and in his 70s, he dreams he finally finds a publisher and his book is successful. Does his dream come true?

Like Christian, Fred took the time to write his novel, years actually, and I followed along during that process, even reading the whole book twice. I liked what I read, especially the characters he created. Mick, one of the demons in Christian’s head, deserves his own book. I’ve told Fred that.

I met Fred on his second go-round in college. He had been in the service stationed in Germany before he returned to finish his degree. Then he moved back to Germany, where like his character, Christian, he was an ex-pat. (That’s a photo of Fred after he moved back to Germany.) Eventually, he returned to New England, first Rhode Island, where he was big into kayaking on the ocean, and now Connecticut.

We stayed in touch all those year. First it was via letters, and then email took over. At one time he was only one of two people I knew who had an email address. Yes, that was a long ago.

I would characterize Fred as a heavy thinker with a great sense of humor. He’s also a big reader and writer. And now he’s a published novelist. 

Looking for a good read? I recommend The Writer of Unwritten Books.

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Bloodhound Books

Another Door Opens with Bloodhound Books

We authors typically write alone, and these days, promote our works and even publish on our own. So, it is beneficial when we can gain an ally in the publishing world, and that is just what happened to me. I have signed with Bloodhound Books. That’s the company’s logo above.

Now the back story. I actually have another publisher, darkstroke books, which is closing up shop Sept. 30. 

I was one thrilled writer in 2017 when Laurence and Steph Patterson welcomed me to what was then called Crooked Cat Books. The Pattersons believed in my writing, in particular my Isabel Long Mystery Series, when no other publisher did. (I had been hunting for one for too many years and even had two agents who came up empty-handed.) 

It was a pleasurable experience working with Laurence and Steph on the nine books they published But they have decided it’s time to stop after a 12-year run. I respect that decision. 

But with that announcement, it was time to think about what to do next. I absolutely refused to go begging again. What, put my heart and soul into a query submission to a publisher that says if you don’t hear from it in five months, consider it a no? Ugh.

Maybe I should self-publish. With Laurence’s advice and his covers, I figured out how to format and upload the first book in the series, Chasing the Case, for Kindle. I created the format for the paperback. But it was a ton of work that took me away from writing the eighth in the series.

So, I was delighted when Bloodhound Books reached out. Betsy Reavley, Bloodhound’s director and founder, answered all of my questions. For instance, I was curious how a company based in the UK would handle the American English I use. I learned other authors from darkstroke had signed with Bloodhound, and I liked what I read online about the company, its successes and the services it offers authors. I have been impressed with the level of communication.

Betsy offered a contract the day the paperback proof for Chasing the Case arrived. The book looked as good as the one darkstroke published, but as I considered the benefits of having a collaborator, I decided signing with Bloodhound was an offer too good to refuse.

Here’s the link to my section on Bloodhound’s website.

And so, Bloodhound will republish the first three books in my Isabel Long Mystery Series — Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, and Checking the Traps. The books will be released Nov. 15 with new covers and further editing. (The books in their current state will be on Amazon until September.) Bloodhound will also get first dibs on the rest of the series and anything new I write. 

So, here’s to the start of a creative and hopefully successful partnership with Bloodhound Books. Thanks for opening the door for me.

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mothers

When One Mother Inspires Another

Many sleuths have a sidekick. When I chose one for Isabel Long, the protagonist in my mystery series, I went for someone unusual — her 93-year-old mother, Maria Ferreira. Yeah, she’s Isabel’s “Watson.” And though nearly all of the characters I create are purely fictional, when I write about Maria, I’m inspired by my own mother.

Well, it being Mother’s Day, why not give some shine on this important character in my Isabel Long Mystery Series — and a real person in my life.

Interestingly, I have heard numerous readers say they don’t want me to ever lose Isabel’s mother. I am not planning on it, I say to their relief. I can see why they like Maria. She is smart and spunky at age 93.

So is the person who inspired her — my own mother, Algerina Medeiros, who left us last September at age 99. I can think of many adjectives to describe Mom although being curious, involved, and creative come quickly to mind. She had a long and enjoyable marriage with my father, who she met on a blind date. Being a big reader and a fan of my books, my mother gave her approval when I started the series.

Using her as an inspiration for Isabel’s mother came easy.

And now that my own mother is no longer with us, I feel I keep her going if only through my imagination and the words I write.

In my mystery series, both Isabel and her mother are widows. Maria came to live with her in the fictional hilltown of Conwell in Western Massachusetts after both were tired of living alone. Also, Isabel has the most space of her siblings. (My own mother preferred living by herself.)

It’s been a bit of an adjustment for Maria living with her daughter and moving to the sticks, as she calls it, from the state’s seacoast. But the town has a library that supplies her with those mysteries and smutty romances she likes. And she’s found a whole different culture in country living. She’s also a big fan of Isabel’s guy, Jack, who owns the town’s only bar.

Maria likes to stay up late reading, doing puzzles in the newspaper, and watching TV. Being Portuguese, she makes family favorites like kale soup. So did my mother.

She’s also got a lead foot when she’s driving, or as Isabel says, it’s like her mother is driving the getaway car in a bank robbery. Actually, I stole that line from my husband, Hank, when he commented about my mother’s driving after she gave us a ride. Once when I was with her, I told her she was driving a little too fast. She laughed and said it was the car. Of course, I used that in a book. I believe she drove until she was 95 or so.

Isabel often takes her mother when she interviews potential clients and even persons of interest, if there’s no danger involved. She counts on Ma’s observations. I bet my own mother would have been great at that.

And Ma encourages Isabel to continue being a private investigator. Actually, she is just as excited as Isabel about finding new cases to solve. She says it is boring without one. I could hear my mother saying that.

Here is an excerpt from Missing the Deadline, no. 7, in which Isabel and her mother are at the home of Cyrus Nilsson, a noted poet who wants her to investigate the shooting of his first literary agent. They meet outside the home of the Big Shot Poet, Isabel’s secret nickname for him, and then shoo him inside so they can weigh the merits of the case. It’s a typical conversation between the two.

“What do you think, Ma? Should we take this case?”

“This would be more different than your others. This Gerald is alive, but we don’t know how bad off he is. He might not be very helpful at all. Or maybe he would be.” She pauses. “I would just insist on the usual list of people to interview. At the top should be this sister, Wendy. Without her, we won’t have much to go on.”

“I agree. And that guy Cole. Plus anyone Gerald might have crossed.” I think about my conversation with Cyrus and what I read online. “I wonder how long that list would be.”

“You’re the one who does the heavy lifting on these cases. What’s your gut feeling?”

“My gut feeling? How different is this to my other cases? I didn’t have a lot to go on at first, but I worked it out. The last one was nearly fifty years old. This one is a lot more recent, only three.”

“Plus, there are no guarantees you will find the culprit. You should remind Cyrus that. This man could have indeed tried to off himself.”

I smile hearing my mystery-loving mother use the words “culprit” and “off.” Yes, there are no guarantees I will be successful although I’d like to keep my winning streak going.

“Okay, let’s do it.”

My mother laughs. “Oh, boy, a new case. This will be good practice for the big one.”

“Yes, it would be nice to finally give Patsy some justice,” I say.

For those of you wondering, Patsy was my cousin who was kidnapped in my hometown when I was a kid. Her body was found buried years later when a wooded area was being cleared for a subdivision. Her killer was never found. It is a tragedy that still haunts our family. Do I have the P.I. smarts to solve it? I’m working on it.

I glance toward the house, where Cyrus hovers behind that window.

“Shall we keep him waiting longer?” I joke.

“Isabel,” my mother says in a voice I remember from my childhood that I may be pushing it.

“Oh, alright.”

Yes, that’s a photo of my mother above. And here’s the link to Missing the Deadline in case you are interested.

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Writing

Writing Two Books at the Same Time

Strange but true that I am writing two books at the same time. Let me explain how this makes perfect sense.

I began Finding the Source, next in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, on Dec. 3. I was inspired while making the final edits for no. 7, Missing the Deadline, which had a release three weeks later. Being in the thick of this story and its characters made me want to start another right away.

When writing novels, I aim for 500 words each day of the week, well, except for holidays and family visits. I started that practice when I worked as editor-in-chief, first for two daily newspapers, and then three at the same time. I got up at 5 a.m. (before the heat came on in the winter) and that was the amount of words I wrote before I left for the newsroom.

Actually, 500 is a satisfying amount of words that helps me maintain the quality of the book I’m writing while making progress. Sometimes I do go over, not realizing it until I look at the bottom of my novel’s document. But I found purposely trying to write longer took the fun out of it. That’s my experience anyway.

But now that I no longer have that job, I wanted to write more. Certainly writing for Substack and my website helped fulfill that desire. But recently I felt it wasn’t enough.

That’s when I found The Talking Table, a YA book I began the day after Christmas in 2022, according to the file’s info. Thinking about that time, I recalled certain family members got Covid, so our holiday gathering that year was postponed. Instead we had a quiet celebration with meals for those who were well and lived nearby.

I was a couple of thousand into The Talking Table when I dropped it. Frankly, I forgot about the book, but there was also a lot of personal stuff going on at that time. I discovered it last month in my computer’s files and was inspired to continue.

The Talking Table is a story told by 16-year-old Vivien Winslow, who recently moved to a trailer park with her mother and brother when they could no longer afford the apartment they had. Their father, who wrote one great book that brought him acclaim, is out of the picture. Why that title? It’s my secret for now.

Here’s how the book starts: We lived in an crappy place, my mother, brother, and me. It wasn’t really a house, but something that came on wheels just like the others in Murphy’s Trailer Park and only a single-wide with white aluminum siding. It was like living in a tin can.

Sure, I told myself, I could write 500 words a day for that book, too. And so I have.

I believe that’s possible because they are two very different books and the readership I am trying to reach is likewise different.

Both are first-person. But in the mystery series, I use present tense to get readers engaged in the cold cases solved by Isabel Long, a smart and savvy older woman. In The Talking Table, I chose past tense as Vivien Winslow reflects on her life as a teenager and what turned out to be a critical experience.

One book is present day. The other takes place in 1967.

The settings are not the same. Finding the Source along with the rest of the series is set in the fictional hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. The location for The Talking Table is a seacoast town inspired by the one where I grew up in the eastern part of the state.

I work on Finding the Source right after I get up and while having my first cup of coffee.

Typically, I save The Talking Table until after I have taken a break doing household chores, errands, shoveling snow, and social media promotion. Sometimes it happens in the late afternoon. But there are times, like yesterday, when I’ve gone from one book to the other. To heck with the other things I had to do.

By my calculations I should finish both by mid-spring. After all, the YA book is significantly shorter than the adult mystery. When that happens, I will get into editing mode and give my books the attention they deserve.

What’s with the sign above? That and another are posted in the Trolley Museum yard in Shelburne Falls Village. 

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Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie’s Story Broke My Heart

Facebook reminded me that I wrote this post on my then-blog eleven years ago when I lived in Taos, NM. The notification inspired me to reread Sherman Alexie’s short story, ‘Basic Training’ that appeared in Blasphemy. Ah, my reaction to his story was the same as it was in 2013. 

I don’t know author Sherman Alexie, but I do his writing. I have all his novels and have read them all, a few more than once. He deservedly won the National Book Award for his YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Yes, I am a fan.

His collection, Blasphemy, contains a few stories selected from other books like ‘The Toughest Indian in the World’ and ‘The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven’. Most are new.

I enjoyed reading the stories in Blasphemy. They are solid Alexie.

And then, I got to the second-to-the-last story, ‘Basic Training’, about a Donkey Basketball outfit. For those unfamiliar with Donkey Basketball, it’s like the regular game but the players do it while riding donkeys. Donkey Basketball teams travel from town to town, raising money for schools and good causes. They are a throwback to another era. Not many of them are left.

In ‘Basic Training’, Carter & Sons is one of the last Donkey Basketball teams. Business is bad and Emery Carter is unlikely going to pass the business onto his son, who has other plans. Emery Carter brings the donkeys to a game at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. Then, they are on their way to another.

I’m not going to spoil what happens next in ‘Basic Training’ but it has the kind of power that makes the reader feel incredible pain. At least it did me.

I don’t write authors, but I did Alexie. I told him “you broke my heart” and not much more than that.

No, I didn’t hear back from him. I didn’t expect it. But if I ever write something that moved someone as much as this story did me, I would want to know.

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