Please help me welcome a self-proclaimed storyteller, Michael Meyer, who found the courage to write a book and then another. Welcome, Michael! Let’s listen to what he has to say about his background and then we’ll find out more about his book.
I was a sales and marketing professional in the hospitality industry for more than forty years, working primarily with upscale properties/companies. I dabbled with writing in college; however, I had neither the money nor the patience to pursue a college education. I left school and moved to Key Largo to help support our family (more on that later). It was there I realized what a wild, funky, and fantastic world was available to provide education, entertainment, and enrichment in all of its splendor, pain, and madness.
I am not an author as much as a storyteller. Throughout my life, I have met many veterans of many wars. I have worked with them and had the pleasure of supporting them and their families through Serving Our Troops – a local group of Saint Paul people who serve the troops and their families a meal when they deploy and midway through their tour, 100% free.
As a result, I have heard their stories, opinions, and learned for good or bad war changes everyone. Exit Strategy offers a glimpse into two divergent psyches and interweaves today’s most challenging issues. It is the first of three, with Brian Kelly serving as the protagonist. I hope people enjoy it.
Author Social Links: Twitter
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
Michael: It was something I had rolling around in my head, and eventually, I had to put it on paper.
Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?
Michael: Brian Kelly, he is parts (good and bad) of me and others who have played a role in my life thus far.
Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?
Michael: I was terminated from a former employer after leaving a previous employer where I had worked for twelve years. The previous employer was a friend and mentor, but I felt my contributions were being taken for granted and spinning my wheels. He died not long after I left.
Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?
Michael: The Olsens, because they were pure fiction. They were created from several people’s personality characteristics, both good and bad, yet no one I actually knew. I wanted Jenny to be complex. Part girl next door, part vamp, part loving wife, and one hundred percent a bad-assed combat vet. Born of the significant personal trauma experienced during her tour in Iraq.
I also enjoyed creating Carmen, who was also one hundred percent pure fiction. I enjoyed giving her a fascinating backstory, which I further developed in the sequel.
General Knapp was based on several people. I wanted him to be crass, yet, you could see him being a good guy. Then he says or does something so despicable, you want to see him meet his end.
Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?
Michael: I needed to research a lot of geography, weaponry, and psychology as well as the military because I have never served. I spoke with many friends who had served, not as an interview, but as they retold stories. You can see the pain, horror, comradery as they retell their memories.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
Michael: It’s my first book, and my first and worst mistake was once I started writing, the story came to me pretty quickly, so I felt compelled to get it on paper. As if it would disappear. Converting it to something that resembled English was tough because I had so many errors. I hired an editor, a total waste of money. I gave it to my two daughters, both graduates of mass com and journalism from Big Ten universities, who eventually began editing each other’s edits. At one point, I had ten drafts; finally, I started on page one and rewrote the entire manuscript using an outline or storyboard and the character list.
In my second book, I took my time, created an outline for each chapter, developed the characters in advance, and bought Grammarly Pro!!!!!
Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you?
Michael: Seven years! My god, I hope not. Actually, my second came together in three years, but I was still working full-time and editing the first one.
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
Michael: None, that I’m aware of.
Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?
Michael: He/she “sat forward, leaned back,” also “as a result/resulting”
Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?
Michael: My mother, she raised nineteen of us and also wrote. She was published in magazines and the Cincinnati Enquirer but never attempted a novel. It was her dream; I dedicated Exit Strategy to her.
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
Michael: We have a three-season porch with an adjoining deck; I use those until the winter gets too cold.
Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?
Michael: I am winding down my hospitality industry career. Currently consulting for the company I mentioned earlier. I have loved every minute of it. The hotel/resort sales business is one of the few where you live like a millionaire on someone else’s budget. I worked for a five-star resort in the Keys, moved to Minnesota (after hurricane Andrew), and worked for the top upscale hospitality company I could find. Traveled the country, the Caribbean, and Central America and had an absolute blast.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
Michael: Book 1 – I have always been a good storyteller, but to actually decide to write a manuscript and sit down and do it. Going through all of the edits, making countless mistakes, going through numerous rejections (more than 500), and finally, having the gall, courage, the chutzpah to self-publis has been a monumental achievement.
Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?
Michael: Ernst Hemmingway, he was just a cool guy. He went to bull fights, fished the Keys, hung out in Key West, and wrote like a poet warrior. We have so many things in common, as I have done many of those same things. I would love to hang-out for one day. Grisham would be another. Clancey is a good storyteller but an absolute jackass. Flynn was a good guy, lived near-by, and told me to go for it! May he rest in peace.
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
Michael: First, I laugh, as I don’t have a writing career YET! Even so, I have already enjoyed success. I started doing this because when I regaled people with stories, or they read my articles in industry pubs, they would say you need to write a book. So I did. Then people read it, and they told me grammar aside, it was terrific. When is the sequel? Not out of consideration, but they truly meant it. That they enjoyed and truly wanted to know what happens next is my definition of success – everything else is gravy.
Exit Strategy begins with one of today’s most vexing problems, mass shootings, this one taking place at an elementary school on the first day of the new school year. Immediately, law enforcement from throughout three counties descends upon the school, joined by local FBI Special Agent John Regal. Over the next several hours, they work to evacuate the students and reunite them with their families.
The perpetrators are introduced during a charity golf tournament that took place a week earlier. It is here where we learn that nothing is really as it seems. While the shooting is taking place, a local racetrack casino is robbed of $50M, setting up a hunt for suspects that encompasses the United States, Caribbean, and Australia, leading to a conclusion that will literally blow you away and set up the sequel.
Nearly all of the main characters are veterans of the last sixty years of war. The book delves into the travesties endured, and how it shapes the futures of each character. It’s told in the third person and is a quick read at 250 pages.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing the inspiration of your story and a glimpse at your writing process, Michael.
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