Starting on 11/28 WWK presents original short stories by some of our authors. Here's our lineup:

11/28 Debra H. Goldstein, "Thanksgiving in Moderation"

12/5 Annette Dashofy, "Las Posadas--A New Mexico Christmas"

12/12 Warren Bull, "The Thanksgiving War"

12/19 KM Rockwood, "The Gift of Peace"

12/26 Paula Gail Benson, "The Lost Week of the Year"

If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at

November Interviews
11/6 Barbara Ross, Nogged Off
11/13 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
11/20 Lois Winston, Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
11/27 V. M Burns, Bookmarked For Murder

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
11/2 V. M. Burns
11/9 Heather Redmond
11/16 Arlene Kay

WWK Bloggers: 11/23 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: or at Amazon:

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30. It is now also available in audio.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Can a Novel Be Developed From Essays?

President Obama signaled his intention to focus more of his attention toward Asia, where the geopolitics is heating up. Today's Salad Bowl Saturday guest, Richard Brawer, turned his attention toward Japan and China well before the president's espoused focus and turned his research into a thriller. Today he tells us the how and why and provides some links for added information.


Newspaper stories reporting a crime most often describe the scene, the motive and the perpetrator, generally enough information to create a fictional plot and characters. However, opinion pieces and essays generally focus on a subject. Is there enough depth in that single subject to form a plot? Is there enough information to create a protagonist and antagonist?

I think the answer to both of these questions is, yes. A novelist is a person with an extraordinary imagination, a person who is profoundly curious, a person who asks questions, a person who is widely read on many subjects and can use his/her knowledge to create plots, scenes and characters.

There have been many stories in the newspapers about China’s fast growing military and how China is menacing its neighbors, especially Japan. I wondered if I could create a novel from these stories.

I thought about Japan’s and China’s 750 years of hostilities. In 1274 and 1281 under Kublai Khan, China tried to invade Japan and failed both times. More recently, Japan defiled China with the Rape of Nanking and other atrocities during WWII.

Knowing China is still fuming over Japan’s brutality for which Japan never apologized, I asked myself, as China’s military grows stronger, would China try to exact its revenge on Japan? 

But how could China attack Japan with the U.S. vowing to defend Japan? Which brings up another interesting question: Despite U.S. bluster about China’s aggression will the U.S. go to war with China to protect its Asian allies?

To me such a war with China would be like Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. China is too vast, the lines of supply extremely long and China’s military technology is advancing rapidly. It seems like a no win situation for the U.S. or, alternately, will result in a total nuclear war.

Therefore I wondered, would Japan continue to put its survival in the hands of an uncertain ally? Or, would Japan fend off the potential threat from China by building nuclear weapons? 

Being a novelist, as I read more articles about China’s advances in their military prowess, Japan’s anguish over China’s growing harassment of Japan’s businesses within China, and their dispute over two small islands both countries claim, I concluded Japan would build nuclear weapons.

Japan already has vast uranium enriching facilities for their nuclear power plants and could easily enrich uranium to bomb quality in a short time. Japan also has a space program so they have ICBMs that can deliver the bombs.

However, when the U.S. administration realizes Japan is building nuclear weapons it would certainly demand Japan cease and desist. After all, with the U.S. insisting North Korea and Iran abandon their nuclear weapons programs, how could the U.S. allow Japan to go forward without a word?

Would Japan obey the U.S. or would Japan have anticipated drawing the ire of the U.S. and be prepared to thwart the U.S. demands? How would Japan do that? 

The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission eliminated the amount of money businesses and political action committees could donate to politicians and political parties. That ruling became the basis for my story.

Japan could build a huge political action committee (PAC) to influence politicians to stifle the administration demands on Japan. But Japan is a foreign country. Despite the ruling, their businesses in the U.S. are not allowed to donate to political campaigns. Thus Japan would have to build their PAC clandestinely so it would look like only 100% owned American companies were donating to politicians.

But I still didn’t have much more than a dissertation on Japan/China/U.S. relationships. What I needed were characters. What makes a riveting novel are characters in conflict. It’s how the characters resolve their conflicts that keeps the readers turning the pages. Here is the final plot and characters I developed.

Toshio Nagoya, descended from a long line of samurai and the ultra-nationalist CEO of Japan’s largest Keiretsu, plots to build nuclear weapons to protect his country from a menacing China. Using his cousin, John Nagoya, a lawyer and second generation Japanese-American, they build a large PAC (political action committee) to thwart the expected United States’ cease-and-desist demands.

That’s the catalyst that draws three families, Toshio’s, John’s and Senator Morrison’s, intertwined by blood and marriage into conflict with each other, and how conspiracy, lust, infidelity, revenge, betrayal and murder destroy those families.

After I had written the book I worried if it really was believable or would readers say, “Ridiculous.” The PAC Conspiracy is contemporary fiction, not fantasy. The plot and the characters have to have some merit of believability.

The PAC Conspiracy came out in December 2012. Six months later this story broke in the newspaper:

Japan Nuclear Plan Unsettles U.S.” The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2013

From the article: “Japan is preparing to start up a massive nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant over the objections of the (U.S.) administration…The Rokkasho reprocessing facility is capable of producing nine tons of weapons-usable plutonium annually, enough to build 2000 bombs.”

The article goes on to say how the administration objects to this reprocessing. “Allowing Japan to acquire large amounts of plutonium without clear prospects for a plutonium-use plan is a bad example for the rest of the world.” (NOTE: This isn’t much of a demand for Japan to cease and desist.)

A few months later this story broke: “Taiwan Says China Threat is Growing” The Wall Street Journal October 9, 2013.

From the article: “China will have the military capability by the year 2020 to fend off any foreign effort to stop it from invading Taiwan, the island’s defense minister said.”

In my opinion, after taking Taiwan, China will set its sights on Japan, which is why Japan will build nuclear bombs soon.

You don’t have to read the newspapers to learn about the arms race in Asia. The PAC Conspiracy explains it all in a “compelling political thriller.” Enjoy!

After graduating the University of Florida and a six month basic training tour in the National Guard, Richard Brawer worked 35 years in the textile and retail industries. Always an avid reader, he began writing mystery, suspense and historical fiction novels in 1994. When not writing, he spends his time sailing and growing roses. He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife.

The PAC Conspiracy (released late 2013) is available from Amazon for Kindles or any device with a Kindle app. The novel is currently on sale at a special price of $0.99.

To learn more about Richard, the inspiration for The PAC Conspiracy or his other books, visit his website


James Montgomery Jackson said...

Richard -- You've chosen an interesting topic and one I suspect we should be more concerned about than we are. Since most people don't much like reading history, fiction can be a great way to raise issues of our times.

~ Jim

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interesting look at not only a current international political situation, but a glance at how such current events can be used in fiction writing.

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for an interesting post. I always knew science fiction writers could grow a story out of current events, but your idea is new to me.

Gloria Alden said...

Richard, I have been reading the news and have been concerned about the very problem you wrote about. I was also upset about the Supreme Court ruling. Your book, for people who read, will be a wake up call for the problems not only our country, but the world faces.