Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mississippi Library Association Review - NORTON ROAD

My second novel, Norton Road was recently reviewed by Mississippi Libraries, a publication of the Mississippi Library Association. The review is viewable on the Mississippi Library Association website in PDF format, but it is not easy to link to, so I am posting it here in its entirety, unaltered (except one instance where I corrected the spelling of my last name). I would like to give a special thanks to the writer of the review, Heather Pohl for giving me permission to use her review in promotional materials.

Purdon, Carl. Norton Road. Createspace, 2013. 332 pp. $14.99 (paperback)

Oscar ‘Pap’ Jones is at war. Armed with a small red toolbox and flashlight, Pap leads a campaign of mechanical sabotage and mischief against the “noisy, dirty, sawdust-belching invasion of his privacy” next door, Khane Manufacturing. For two years Pap has conducted nighttime raids against Davis Khane, trying to put the furniture factory out of business. His raids soon cause the owner Davis Khane to retaliate and enlist the help of former deputy sheriff, and aspiring sheriff candidate, Bodie Craig.

Pap’s war with Khane, which includes the unfortunate skunk and microwave incident, comes to an abrupt end when he is accused of murder and hauled off to jail. In order to survive he must destroy Bodie, whose passion for money, power, and a woman he can’t have has quickly turned into deadly obsession.

Norton Road is a multiple viewpoint novel that successfully transitions between the three main characters: Oscar ‘Pap’ Jones, Sheriff Sam Gant, and sheriff candidate Bodie Craig. Through these transitions the reader is able to see the story from all sides, making the characters much more than one dimensional. Purdon gives a clear picture of Pap’s hatred for the factory, Sheriff Gant’s life outside of the small-town police department, and how Bodie Craig’s many passions become one giant twisted obsession. The reader really gets to know the characters; wanting to not only know where they will end up, but also rooting for them along the way.

While Norton Road does not contain strong adult language, it does contain mature themes and is not suitable for young children. The novel will, however, appeal to Mississippians who have lived in similar places as well as anyone who is a fan of contemporary murder mystery fiction. Public libraries, especially those interested in collecting works written by Mississippi-born authors, should consider Norton Road when purchasing for their collection.

Heather Pohl
Acquisitions and Adult Services Librarian Columbus-Lowndes Public Library 

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For more information on me and my novels, please visit my website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mississippi Library Association Review of BLINDERS

My third novel, Blinders was recently reviewed by Mississippi Libraries, a publication of the Mississippi Library Association. The review is viewable on the Mississippi Library Association website in PDF format, but it is not easy to link to, so I am posting it here in its entirety, unaltered. I would like to give a special thanks to the writer of the review, Tamara D. Blackwell for giving me permission to use her review in promotional materials.

Purdon, Carl. Blinders. Lexington, Kentucky: Carl Purdon, 2014. $14.99 (paperback)

Blinders is Pontotoc County, Mississippi, native Carl Purdon’s third novel. Set in Mississippi, it is the story of Dale Criss who, after serving 25 years for killing his high school sweetheart, has just been released from Parchman Prison and is now returning home. No one in his hometown is happy about his return and most think he should never have been released; when a former police officer is murdered, it seems to confirm everyone’s suspicions.

The novel opens with a prologue depicting the final hours of Dale’s trial in a seemingly corrupt courtroom with an arrogant sheriff and a gun-toting judge, combined with an inexperienced court-appointed lawyer and a gallery that’s clearly out for Dale’s blood. The scene resonates with the reader, leaving the distinct impression that Dale did not receive a fair and impartial trial. The reader’s sympathies are tested from the beginning, though, by Dale’s recklessly irresponsible choices and behavior – indeed, at times he appears to be his own worst enemy.

Thrown into the mix are two lawmen with very different attitudes towards law enforcement and how it should be implemented, and who are constantly butting heads to see who will prevail. Trap Malone is a by-the-book kind of man that believes there’s only one line to follow and it should never be crossed. Challenging Trap’s authority is Chief Deputy Carson Webster, a remnant of the former sheriff’s administration who preferred his old bosses’ style of justice and is a constant irritant to Trap. While Carson’s adamant desire to put Dale back behind bars at any cost tests Trap’s resolve, it is his wife’s betrayal, however, that has him questioning everything he believes in.

This well written book has a fast-paced plot that will appeal to contemporary fiction readers who enjoy action and suspense. While the book does have violent content, the violent scenes are short and the worst takes place “off-page.” Carl Purdon’s exciting book is suitable for most adult audiences and is recommended for all public libraries.

Tamara D. Blackwell
Reference Services
Bolivar County Library System 

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For more information on me and my novels, please visit my website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recharging The Batteries

Sometimes, regardless what your job is, you just need to get away from the grind and recharge your batteries.

I've been working on the sequel to The Night Train for a handful of months now, plus holding down a full time day job. About a month ago I was driving back from Ohio and got on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Nashville. Those first few miles on the Trace reminded me of one of my favorite places on earth.


The Great Smokey Mountains are spectacular year round, but especially when they slip into their autumn garb. My wife and I honeymooned in Gatlinburg in March of 2001, then went back for our first anniversary. Our son, Logan, was born the following December (you do the math). Both times we stayed in a cabin called Little Cabin In The Woods. We didn't get to go back for a few years and, by that time, the cabin -- our cabin -- had been sold, so we stayed elsewhere. Last month I did a Google search and found that cabin again, managed by a different company. The only open weekend in October was this past weekend, so I booked it.

During the weeks between the time I booked the cabin and the day we left, Sharon and I reminisced about those first two trips. We were both excited to go back to the Little Cabin, and hoped it would be as good as we remembered. It was.

The inside decor had changed just enough to notice. We remembered things as we walked through it. Logan, who is eleven now, absolutely loved it. He made a "perch" in the living room window seat and spent most of his "home" time sitting there reading a book or playing video games.

Sometimes he just sat and stared out at the mountain view. Sharon and I loved seeing him enjoy the trip as much as he did.

We did other things. Outside things. Fun, adventurous things. I played (and won) miniature golf for the first time in my life, but
that cabin made the trip special. No, I take that back. Sharon and Logan made the trip special. The cabin provided the setting for special.

Our vacation was like the novel I'm writing. It had a beginning, a middle, and sadly, an end. It had characters (I met this unique guy from West Virginia -- a coal miner, who said he had faced down a six foot black bear) and adventure. The mountain roads provided twists and turns. We didn't always know what to expect. There were weather changes and a storm, and thanks to the Little Cabin In The Woods, it had the perfect setting.

Unfortunately, we were too early for the fall show, but green is a pretty color too. Tuesday morning we packed and left, grumbling as we walked out the door, off the porch, and down the steps. Can't we have just one more day? At the last minute we decided to take the long way home over the mountains and were rewarded with a sneak peek at fall. The trees had slipped on a light jacket of yellows, browns, and reds since our trip over two days prior. Unexpected, like that twist I slipped into the scene I wrote on the back deck just before the storm forced me inside the night before.

I would be hard pressed to think of anything that would have made
our vacation better. Anything except more time, that is. If I ever turn this writing thing into a money-making venture, I see a cabin in our future.

This morning I went back to the day job, a little sad it's over, but thankful we had the opportunity to go. We made memories, and added one more chapter to this novel called us.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Basic Book Promotion

Carl Purdon
My New Business Card
How can I get people to buy my book? It's a question on almost every author's mind. We've all clicked those links, you know the ones -- the links that promise answers that don't exist. Even though we know there is no magic answer, we still click.

We click because we think we've written the next bestseller (if you don't think that about your book then why did you publish it?) but we can't figure out how to let people know.

Family and friends, co-workers, Facebook acquaintances, these are all great first steps, but unless you are already famous, you simply don't know enough people for Amazon to notice. Millions, maybe billions, of people flock to Amazon. They buy books, but how do they know your book exists? If it's not on the charts, they won't, unless someone tells them.

Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools a writer can have, so every new reader puts you one step closer to your goal. Most readers may be surprised to know this, but even the simplest mention of your book (assuming they enjoyed it) sends the author into orbit and makes him or her that much more dedicated to writing something new. Writers are sensitive by nature. We crave feedback. Readers are our lifeblood. They are what make us sit for countless hours driving ourselves crazy for just the right way to make that next sentence pop (that's how novels are born -- one sentence at a time).

Every writer should have a website -- somewhere people can go to get all the information they need about you and your books. Provide an easy way for people to contact you. Facebook is also one of the fundamentals. An author needs not just a personal Facebook profile, but a Facebook Page (the business version of Facebook). Then there's Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.

Over the last few days I came to realize I've been overlooking another basic promotion tool. One of the most basic, in fact. A tool almost as old as business itself. What is it you ask? A simple business card. Yep, I've been trying to sell books since 2012 and have never had a business card. I corrected that this morning thanks to the ease of creating almost any promotional item on VistaPrint. The hard part is coming up with something catchy, which I hope I accomplished.

There is no magic bullet that will rocket your book to the top of the charts. Writing is an art. Marketing is pure business.

What is your marketing strategy?

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Carl Purdon is the author of The Night Train, Norton Road, and Blinders. He can be found most days on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

God Made Fall For Writers

Summer is the season for fun, at least that's what songs and television commercials tell us. Summer a time to be outdoors, enjoying life with minimal clothing. Summer is the time of bikinis and beach volleyball and vacations to the coast.

Summer is hot.

Fall At My House
When I was a boy, I couldn't wait for it to warm up enough that daddy would let us go outside barefoot. Once he said yes, my brother and sisters and I would shuck our shoes and forget them until late fall, except for school, town, and church. It seems every summer I stepped on at least one rusty nail and scores of honeybees. Our back yard was covered with clover, but we navigated it barefoot each and every day. Stings and tetanus shots were part of summer in the South. Shoes were not.

It's funny, but I don't remember summers being so hot back then. They were, I'm sure. I not one of these people who buy into man-made global warming. No, my theory is that we didn't notice the heat because we were always outside. We didn't have video games or cell phones. We had bicycles and motorcycles, and dirt clods to throw at each other when daddy broke up the garden with the tractor. You don't notice the sweat during a good dirt clod fight.

For the past fifteen years I've worked mostly at a desk in an air-conditioned office. A man becomes accustomed to air with the humidity pumped out. When he goes outside, he notices the heat in a big way. Same thing for kids, I suppose, when they lay up all day playing Nintendo or watching 100+ channels on cable.

I'll let you in on another secret: old people don't look that great in bathing suits. These days, when my wife and I go to the beach, I have enough sympathy for the other beach-goers to wear a shirt. She still looks great, but I've packed on a few pounds.

No, I've come to the conclusion that summer is for young people. They can have it. I'll just sit back in my recliner with the air-conditioner blowing and wait it out.

I like fall because the weather is mild. I can go outside and sit without being eaten alive by gnats and mosquitos and horseflies. My wife and I can sit in the porch swing and hold hands and look out at the lake without sweat rolling down our faces. We can sip coffee early in the morning and let hot caffeine  warm our insides. Sometimes on an especially cool morning, we may catch a whiff of smoke from a neighbor's chimney. There may be no better smell in the world than chimney smoke on a cool morning.

Fall is the season of pretty colors. Leaves change, then fall to the ground and cover grass I don't have to mow again for months. Fall is a time for peaceful reflection. It's the best time of year to take a vacation to Gatlinburg (which we are doing in October!). It's also my favorite time to write.

Thanks to my MacBook with Retina Display, I can sit outside in quiet solitude and write without straining to see the words on my screen. We live out in the country, so it is quiet. Tranquil.

God made the world and he made all four seasons. Of that I am sure, but I'm equally sure He made fall for writers. Winter is for editing and revising. Spring is for publishing. Summer is for finding excuses not to write, but fall ... there's no excuses for not writing in the fall.

What is your favorite season?

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Carl Purdon is the author of The Night Train, Norton Road, and Blinders, available in ebook and paperback. For signed copies, visit his website for ordering information

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yeah, We Did Selfies

I was looking through a box of old pictures and ran across an old selfie I took circa 1993. You can't tell from the picture, but I was actually riding my motorcycle along a highway somewhere in Ohio. Ohio is one of the few states which still doesn't have a helmet law.

Distracted driving? Yes. Do I recommend anyone else doing it? No, of course not. It was incredibly stupid, especially given the fact that I was using an old film camera propped up between the handlebars, but I was young back then, and bulletproof. Or so I thought.

You see, since I was old enough to remember, I knew I was going to write novels someday. I believed it so much that I actually thought nothing could kill me until I had written at least two. Don't laugh, I believed it. Maybe it was true, because I did a lot of really stupid stuff.

I'm more careful now. I have to be because I've written three novels. Maybe you've read them.

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Carl Purdon writes novels he describes as Homegrown Fiction. Visit his website and see what you're missing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life is Like a NASCAR Race

I've blogged before about realizing your potential and reaching beyond it. No doubt you've heard always give 110 percent, though, like me, you may wonder if it's possible to give more than 100
Even Frogs Read
percent. But let's not get bogged down in semantics.

This past Sunday I sat recliner-bound, watching the NASCAR race as I do most Sundays. One of my favorite parts of a race is the after-race driver interviews. Drivers at that point haven't had time to decelerate from the heart-pounding pace they've been on for the past three or four hours, so they tend to be candid. In short, they speak their minds and we, the fans, get a glimpse of who they are mad at and why. Who among us doesn't enjoy seeing our sports heroes mix it up a bit?

Sometimes you'll hear a driver say he finished better than he should have. He may have finished tenth yet he is all smiles because his car was a top fifteen car at best. Next week he may finish seventh and be upset because his car was better than his finish.

Not every driver can be Jimmie Johnson (google that if you don't know who he is and what he has accomplished in a race car). Racing is a team sport. Just like a quarterback can't win a football game on his own, a driver can't win a race without a solid team effort and almost-perfect equipment. Even the smallest mistake can mean the difference in winning and losing (in NASCAR, losing begins with the driver who crosses the finish line second).

I don't recall which driver said it this past Sunday. It doesn't matter. Each week it's someone different. I took a twelfth place car and put it in the top ten. What did he mean by that, and why is that a life lesson?