THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB discussion

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Authors and Their Books > AUTHOR FORUM- JON SPOELSTRA -RED CHASER -FREE COPY FOR NEXT QUESTION

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message 1: by Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB (last edited Mar 11, 2010 01:13PM) (new)

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
I spent most of my adult life running pro sports teams, first NBA teams and then a group of seven minor league baseball teams.

Each job requied a ton of travel. In fact, several years ago I passed the two million mile mark on United Airlines. That was clearly an indictment to my lifestyle. Shame on me.

However, with all those miles I read and I wrote, and when I got tired sitting on a plane or an airport or a hotel room I would read and write some more. My fifth book, Marketing Outrageously, became a Wall Street Journal best-seller. It is used in more than 60 colleges as required reading.

If you saw me in an airport or on a plane, I was always reading. I read my share of business books, but I really read thrillers and mysteries. I particularly liked historial mysteries. So, I wrote RED CHASER, a noir thriller about the 1950s, the Cold War and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Here are some quotes from Goodfriends readers about RED CHASER:

Keith, 4 stars: Red Chaser is a blast. It's a quick, absorbing read, with engaging characters and a fun look at 1951 Brooklyn. Jon Spoelstra has a good voice, well worth rereading. I'm looking forward to more.

Angela Holt, 4 stars: Red Chaser is a fairly fast-paced thriller set in the 1950's. This is a great mystery thriller with a little history, politics, and baseball thrown in. Jake is an easy to like narrator despite his 1950's racial prejudices. I enjoyed this book and look forward to maybe "hearing" from Jake again.

Stormhawk, 4 stars: I'm used to mystery novels being composed of a more terse prose than Jon Spoelstra offers here. His style is engaging and conversational, and carries you along through the main character's reveries about baseball and killing Nazis. Red Chaser is fun, exciting, and most importantly, never gets boring.

I didn't even try going to a mainstream publisher with RED CHASER. I only wanted it on Kindle. After all, it's projected that there will be 28 million of these devices out there in three or four years. Wow, this gives an author the opportunity to reach readers on a direct path. I have received requests from readers that don't have a Kindle, however, and will probably go to CreateSpace for print-on-demand.

I have finished a second novel, DO OVERS, a novel of unexpected second chances. I still need to do some editing, but I plan to get it out this year.

RED CHASER SYNOPSIS

Plunge into this 1950s thriller

The novel Red Chaser tosses you right into the 1950s. In the 1950s, you'll meet the kinkiest and most beautiful spy this side of the Iron Curtain. You'll meet Joe McCarthy. Best of all, you'll live the life of Jake McHenry.

Jake seems to have a near-perfect life. After all, he spent five years in Germany after World War II and came back laden with ill-gotten Nazi riches. Being young and rich ain't bad.

Back home in Brooklyn, Jake became a private detective for the simple reason that he needed a pretend job to hide the source of his riches. Mostly, however, he went to Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field and drank beer.

Between games, Jake did occasionally work at being a detective. His specialty was looking for candid photo-ops of husbands trying to get a little on the side. Sort of seedy, but not a bad diversion.

Then Joe McCarthy entered the picture. A childhood buddy introduced Jake to Tailgunner Joe. They wanted Jake to steal a secret list of celebrity communists from the Ice Queen, a rich high-society leftist named Arabella Van Dyk. The Ice Queen also happened to be the most beautiful--and most depraved--woman that Jake had ever seen.

The break-in of the Ice Queen's brownstone in Manhattan was easy, but it unleashed a flurry of Russians, North Koreans, J. Edgar Hoover and mobsters in a wild chase for the list.

The backdrop to all this is the greatest pennant race in the history of Major League Baseball. The New York Giants chased the Brooklyn Dodgers all summer long for the National League pennant. That’s the year that Bobby Thompson hit the "shot heard 'round the world." The pennant--and Jake's life--comes down to the last inning and the last pitch at the Polo Grounds in New York City on Wednesday, October 3, 1951.

Red Chaser is a fresh spin on the historical mystery novel. It's fun, it's 1950s noir, it's Brooklyn, it keeps you guessing and when you finish the last page you say, "Wow, that was fun."


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Jon, was it very difficult to make such a drastic change in your writing topic? I notice you have several marketing books- now- a novel


message 3: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments The number one rule in writing--at least for me--is to make it interesting and fun to read. That applies to business books and certainly novels.

So, my style didn't change much in writing a novel. Whether it be marketing book or a noir thriller, I kept asking myself 'Is it fun to read?' If it was drudgery, I would have to re-write.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
is it not more difficult to make business book "fun" to read then novels- where you have no limitations but your imagination?


message 5: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments A business book can be a fun read if it features stories about success or failure and not just theory. In telling a busines story, there needs to be pacing, plotting and drama using only the known facts. I find novels more difficult to write because there are no known facts--it's all made up stuff.

RED CHASER is a historical thriller, so there were known facts as a backdrop, but it's still the story--and the characters--that carry it.


message 6: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments The next question get a free Kindle copy of RED CHASER.


message 7: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Hi John,

Welcome to the forum! How did you create on paper the feelings and thoughts associated with a 1950s settting? Did you research in any specific way how for instance the dialogue differed from a book taking place in the 2000s?


message 8: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Hey Gary, you won a Kindle copy of RED CHASER. I'll contact you on your Goodreads address.

Now to the 1950s setting. I really immersed myself, first by reading. I read over 14 books on Brooklyn, particularly the 1950s. The web was really helpful also in getting some of the fun details like the popular music at the time, etc. Also, I have some friends who grew up in Brooklyn at the time and I had them read the book and tell me any part that didn't ring true.


message 9: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Gary won a Kindle copy of RED CHASER; so will the next person with a question.


message 10: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 23 comments where are you living now? (I win)


message 11: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Portland, OR


message 12: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments J won a Kindle copy of RED CHASER; so will the next person with a question.


message 13: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 23 comments that's lower case j, Jon. keeps me separate from the other J
how many you gonna give away? (opps sorry forget that question. i already have a copy.)

j guevara (lower case j and g pls)


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
As Moderator - I excuse myself from the free kindle offer- as I feel it is the ethical thing to do-
I really would like to know what books you read on the 1950's?
and which ones did you get the most out of?


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
j wrote: "that's lower case j, Jon. keeps me separate from the other J
how many you gonna give away? (opps sorry forget that question. i already have a copy.)

j guevara (lower case j and g pls)"


j- make sure to let us know how you enjoyed Jon's novel- the plot seems so interesting


message 16: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 23 comments Of course. On my next to read list. soon as I get time. up to my ass in promo stuff now. no time to breathe. what nobody tells you about self-pub is writing a novel is not the half of it. just got my trailer about 10 min ago, so now I gotta stop and deal with that. need reviews so they can post it. wanna help?

jon, thanks for the quickie.
j


message 17: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Here are the titles of some of the books that I read. Understand that I didn't know which fact I would need. I just read and read and the facts and anecdotes I needed just popped up when I needed them.

Old Brooklyn Heights by Clay Lancaster
The Last Hero by Anthony Cave Brown (Wild Bill Donovan)
The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy by Thomas Reeves
The Fifties by David Halberstam
Shooting Star by Tom Wicker (Joe McCarthy)
The Greatest Ballpark Ever by Bob McGee (Ebbets Field)
The Forgotten War by Clay Blair (Korean War)
The Home Run Heard 'Round the World by Ray Robinson
Summer in the City by Vic Ziegel (NYC & Brooklyn 1947-57)
The American Dream, the 1950s by Richard Stolley
Brooklyn Then and Now by Marcia Press


message 18: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments The next person that asks a questions gets a free Kindle copy of RED CHASER.


message 19: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Thanks for the free copy Jon!! I downloaded last night and read the first few chapters and was instantly hooked! Love the writing style and how things begin.

I have to ask you about your hitting the 2 million mile mark for UA. Wow! Reminds me a little of the Clooney character in Up in the Air. How many flights would you guesstimate you have taken in your life?


message 20: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Easy answer of number of flights: too many.

Harder answer: I probably could try to guesstimate, but I don't want to review the misery.

Since Gary already has a free Kindle copy of RED CHASER, there's still one available for the next person with a question.


message 21: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Welcome to the club! After reading your bio I became instantly fascinated for I really enjoy spy type books. Your book includes three of the major events of the 1950's. The cold war, spies that were planted in both communist and democratic countries and the famous "shot heard around the world" (a clip I watched at least fifty times). What inspired you to include all three of these major events in the 1950's? I would be most interested to know the process to include these events, was it difficult for you to achieve this? Fascinating!


message 22: by Jon (last edited Mar 12, 2010 09:21PM) (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Hey Brian, you won a Kindle copy of RED CHASER. I'll contact you on your Goodreads address.

The genesis of RED CHASER probably started when I was a kid listening to The Greatest Moments in Sports long-playing record. On it was Russ Hodges wild description of Bobby Thompson's famous home run.

Then as I got older, I loved reading the spy books--all the Cold War stuff from John LeCarre to Charles McCarry to Robert Littell. Lastly, there was Brooklyn. I have friends that grew up in Brooklyn and felt that Brooklyn's soul was damaged when the Dodgers lost in 1951, and then it was lost when they moved to LA. The Dodgers meant that much to most of the residents.

I felt the timeline would be the latter part of the Dodgers quest to the pennant in 1951. But, I couldn't let baseball override the story. It had to be as a backdrop. The real story was about spies, McCarthyism, war and the 1950s and, of course Brooklyn.

Now that the New Jersey Nets are going to move to Brooklyn in a couple of years, maybe some of Brooklyn's soul will spring new life.


message 23: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments The next question gets a free Kindle copy of RED CHASER...


message 24: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments I am up to 37% on my Kindle for Red Chaser and am blown away by how good it is. I love the characters and also most importantly the writing style. In particular I also enjoy the the little tidbits Joe gives throughout the books like about history of the Brooklyn Bridge and also how Bergdorf Goodman was built on the old Vanderbilt museum. The sign of a great book is that you are instantly involved in it every time you pick it up to begin reading again and this is so true with Red Chaser. Awesome effort Joe and thank you again for the Kindle copy!!!


message 25: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Gary, I'm delighted you are enjoying it. If somebody else in THE JAMES MASON CLASSIC BRITISH BOOK CLUB wants to read it for free, just ask a question here. Cheap is good, but free is better.


message 26: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Thanks again Jon! and just realized I called you Joe lol!


message 27: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments A bit off subject Jon, but seeing you were involved with the Portland Trailblazers for 11 years I am wondering if you ever read David Halberstam's book The Breaks of the Game? It covered a season with the Trailblazers and though i read it many years ago I have never forgotten it. Wonderful book and David is so missed.


message 28: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Yes, I was working for the Blazers when Halberstam wrote the book. What a researcher! At one lunch with me, he probably took 9-10 pages of notes, never looking at his pad, always at me. That was the same with others he met with, and he met with everybody. I wondered at the time if he could read his own writing when he'd look over his notes. I guess he could.

Halbertson was one of my all-time favorite authors. In fact, I re-read two of his books in writing RED CHASER: The Coldest Winter (about the Korean War) and The Fifties.


message 29: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments wow! That is so awesome to hear. I have also heard that David was a very nice person. Did you find this to be the case?

BTW, based on reading your book I have now ordered two books on the Japanese Internment Camps. They are:

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps By Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family By Yoshiko Uchida


message 30: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments David was a very nice guy, and a great sports fan.

I read three Japanese Interment books for RED CHASER, but my editor handed me an axe with very pointed directions on where to chop. Unfortunately, one of my favorite segments--when Jake and Hiromi visit Tule Lake, CA, where an Interment camp had been--just didn't fit and ended up whacked.

I read: And Justice For All by John Tateishi
Tule Lake by E.T. Miyakawa
Prisoners Without Trial by Roger Daniels


message 31: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Of the three books you read, which do you recommend the most?


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
is it difficult to have to edit passages that you really put alot of input into? What decision making process goes into editing?


message 33: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments After my second draft of Red Chaser, I hired a free lance editor, Ed Stackler. He has edited many thriller books. After he was finished, he handed me an axe with some specific recommendations where to whack. Unfortunately, one of my favorite scenes was on the recommended chopping block. While I loved that scene, I saw where it slowed down the pace. Off it came.

As the author, it was indeed difficult. But, as a reader, it was necessary that it went to keep up the pace.


message 34: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Hi Jon,

I finished Red Chaser and wow was it awesome. I really hope you do another one with the same characters. You lead character was so fascinating because he was far from perfect and also really skirted the line between good and bad. Did you ever feel pressure to ease up on him or was it your goal to create an imperfect hero?


message 35: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Gary--

I did not set out to create an imperfect hero in Jake McHenry. Jake is basically a good guy, but was put into very bad situations. He matched bad with bad, and while his actions may be considered extreme, many could also consider them justified. Not justified in the court of law, of course, but in life.


message 36: by Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB (last edited Mar 23, 2010 01:53PM) (new)

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
I met David Halberstam at a NYC bookstore- he was just browsing around- he could not have been nicer!
such a terrible tragedy- his death- as was his Brother Michael's was.


message 37: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments David was one of my all-time favorite authors.

I find Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and Blindside and now The Big Short, similar in ways to David. Both take historical situations and follow key characters through the story.


message 38: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments The next question wins a free Kindle copy of RED CHASER.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Jon
your book facinates me- I have read many biosof J Edgar Hoover- some I feel were more the writers opinion then a bio- what is your opinion of J Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
also jon- did you see the film QUIZ SHOW? I only paid to see it because Paul Scofield was in it


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
I shall like to read your book


message 42: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments There have been certain men in the U.S. history who had unbridled power, and that it was impossible to get rid of them. Sure, there have been some politicians that served a long time, but they didn't have the unbridled power, and they could be voted out. Hoover was one of the few of these power brokers. Presidents couldn't get rid of him, attorney generals couldn't do it.

Another guy, but local to New York state, was Robert Moses. He was the ultimate power broker. He was the most powerful man in New York's history, shaper of not only the politics but also its physical structure. Governors nor mayors could get rid of him. He 'served' NY for a half a century. He was mostly responsible, in my opinion, for Walter O'Malley, the Brooklyn Dodgers owner, to look elsewhere to build a ballpark.

Both Hoover and Moses were not elected to office, but they dominated more than the robber barons.


message 43: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments Rick--

I'm delighted that you want to read RED CHASER. Please email me your regular email address, and I'll have Amazon send you a gift certificate for it.

Jon


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
just downloaded Red Chaser- looks like a winner!!! love the writing style- Craig Rice like noir!
Thanks!!


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Jon wrote: "Rick--

I'm delighted that you want to read RED CHASER. Please email me your regular email address, and I'll have Amazon send you a gift certificate for it.

Jon"


started reading Red Chaser- love that it starts quick- also like the secondary characters - The Ice Queen is the one with a list of "commie" celebrities?


message 46: by Jon (new)

Jon Spoelstra (findjon) | 22 comments The person that asks the next questions gets a free copy of RED CHASER on Kindle.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Jon
what was your take on Halbertan's book The 1950's
he was such a good journalist- but was he able to keep personal thoughts and opinion out of the book?


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Also- what are your next plans as far as fiction writing- I so loved Red Chaser- I WANT YOU TO WRITE ANOTHER NOVEL!!


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