Saturday, December 14, 2013

James R. Callan Finds Joy in Writing

This week I am especially pleased to have as my guest James R. Callan, a talented and successful writer who, as you’ll read below, takes great joy in his writing. He also takes pleasure in supporting other writers, a whole posse of them, acting as coordinator and host for spreading news and views via email and blog posts. Let’s hear what Jim has to say about the joy of writing.

The joy of writing for me is twofold. 

When I write a paragraph or scene that can bring tears to my eyes or cause me to laugh out loud, even when I read it for the tenth or fifteenth time, then I not only know why I sit and write, but I know the true joy of writing.  I can know I have created a work of art.  No, it’s not a painting.  It’s not a sculpture, nor a piece of music.  But it is art as surely as a Monet is, or a variation by Rachmaninoff is.  It has stirred an emotion which is greater than the actual piece itself.

It brings to mind a quote from a play by Edmond Rostand, written in 1897.  The play is Cyrano de Bergerac.  The play is based on a real Cyrano de Bergerac. In the play, Cyrano is a character bigger than life.  He is an incredible swordsman, soldier, friend, and writer.  In the play, the Count De Guiche’s tells Cyrano he could garner the favor of some higher official and profit financially from his writing. Cyrano replies, “When I have made a line that sings itself, so that I love the sound of it, I pay myself a hundred times.” Cyrano knew the joy of writing.

The finished written word should be the real joy of writing.

The second part is the satisfaction of creating a plot and characters that work together, that blend smoothly, that give the reader great satisfaction when finished with the book. It is not sufficient to have a great plot or to have great characters.  You need those two parts to fit so well that a reader will not be able to think of one without the other.  You have created a project that is as smooth and finished as Michelangelo’s statue of David.

Neither of these two parts is easy to achieve.  But then, the struggle to produce the paragraph, the scene, the polished book makes the joy of success even more intense.  And when I achieve one or both of these, I have found the true joy of writing and I do, indeed, pay myself a hundred times.

I have no doubt that James R. Callan took great joy from the writing of his newest success:

A Ton of Gold
A contemporary suspense novel

Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.  Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance. 

On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time he can put an end to her career.  She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76-year-old grandmother.

That sounds great, doesn’t it? Check out this excerpt:

Chapter 2

Crystal Moore’s eyes shot wide open and she sat bolt upright. Disconnected pictures, all bleak, flashed in Crystal’s mind, as a chill descended over her. “Tried to kill you!” Her voice almost failed her. Her chest felt like something was crushing it. She could feel her blood pulsing in her veins. “Are you Okay?”
“I’m fine.”
“Where are you?”
“Home. Where else would I be?”
In the hospital. “What happened?”
“Some fool tried to run me off the road.”
Crystal’s back relaxed slightly. "Nana, I don’t think he was trying to kill you."
"Were you here?"
Crystal reminded herself that this was her grandmother, her only living relative. "Okay. Tell me what happened."
"Well, I was going to town. And some redneck tried to run me off the road. Clear as could be. Meant to kill me!"
Crystal rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. She worried about her grandmother driving, or living alone, for that matter. At seventy-six, reactions slowed. Maybe her grandmother shouldn't be driving at all.
"Every week somebody tries to run me off the road while I'm driving to work. He just wasn't paying attention, that's all."
"That dog won't hunt! I was paying attention. I saw him. He looked right at me, then pulled over in my lane. I could see it in his eyes. He intended to run me right off the road—or hit me head-on. He cotton-pickin' meant to kill me."
"Did you call the police?"
"What for? They'd give me the same routine you are."
Crystal took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "What do you want me to do, Nana?"
"Nothing. Nothing you can do."
Crystal struggled to keep her voice as neutral as possible. She dearly loved her grandmother but Nana could be difficult sometimes. She saw the world very clearly, with seldom a doubt on how to interpret it. "Then why did you call me? Just to worry me?"
"No.” Crystal detected a trace of hurt feelings in her grandmother’s voice. "Because I wanted you to know somebody's trying to kill me. And if I die under questionable circumstances, I want you to tell the police it was murder. And make sure they do something. You know how old Billy Goat is. If you don't stick his nose in it, he can't find—"
"Nana!” Crystal cut her off. "Bill Glothe's been the sheriff for ten years——and your friend a lot longer than that."
"Ugly truck. One of those, ah, what-cha-ma-callits. Ah, four-by-fours. Big as a dump truck. Puce."
"Puce? They don't make puce-colored cars."
"Well, maybe he painted it, I don't know. Looked puce to me."
"Are you Okay? Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Yes and no. I'm fine and there's nothing you can do. Just remember what I told you. Anything happens, get Billy Goat on it."

A Ton of Gold
By James R. Callan
From Oak Tree Press,  2013

On Amazon, in paperback, at: 
Or the Kindle edition at:           
Or from Oak Tree Press at: 

Brief Bio of James R. Callan

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

Blog site:        
Book website:        
Amazon Author page:
Twitter:                           @jamesrcallan


  1. You have captured what I also believe is the joy of writing and said it better than most. And your reader feels your joy in each page. Thanks, Jim.

    1. Thank you, Lesley, for your kind words. And I know, by reading your books, that you experience the joy of writing. Have a happy holiday season.

  2. I agree with Lesley, Jim. Your joy of writing is evident in your books. I've read and enjoyed "Cleansed by Fire" and "A Ton of Gold" and I look forward to reading more of your mysteries.

    1. Thank you, Patricia. I'm pleased that you enjoyed two of my books - and could tell that I enjoyed writing them. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  3. John, Thanks for hosting me and giving me the opportunity to tell a bit about why I write. And also thanks for mentioning my latest book, and even printing an excerpt. I appreciate that.

    1. Jim, the pleasure, and the honor, are mine! Merry Christmas!

  4. John, thanks for featuring such a fine writer, Jim Callan, today. As writers, we appreciate doing guest blogs and the support of other bloggers.

    Nice post. While I was reading, all I could think was that my joy in writing comes from the fact that my characters have more interesting lives than mine!! I can make them smarter, prettier, meaner, taller, younger, and so many other things I can never be!!
    However, you're right about a scene bringing emotions to the surface. When a scene makes me cry or laugh out loud, regardless if I've written it or someone else has, it gives me joy.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    ~Ann Everett

    1. Thanks, Ann. And you are right - our characters can embody characteristics that we only dream of. I appreciate your comment.

  5. You nailed it, Jim. It's the dance of plot and characters, isn't it? The pure joy of creating something from nothing. Not to mention, it's mine, mine, mine. Such satisfaction. Great post.

    1. Well said - a dance of plot and characters. And creating something is always exhilarating. Thanks Melodie.

  6. How great to see you here on John's "Joy of Writing" and read what you have to say. I especially like: "The finished written word should be the joy of writing." So true and aren't we all very fortunate to know that sense of pleasure. Marry Christmas, Jim and John.

    1. We are indeed fortunate, and I hope all writers can know that sense of pleasure. Thanks, Eileen - and Merry Christmas to you.

  7. Thanks, Eileen. And thanks to all who have stopped by to read Jim's wise words and to comment. Happy Christmas to all!

  8. Loved the article, The Joys of Writing. I especially liked the part about creating characters and making them fit into a plot. We work and work trying one thing after another then something clicks and we know we have moved our story forward. The creating and problem solving is the joy of writing for me. Thanks for writing the article.

    Galand Nuchols

  9. Loved your first sentence... Just downloaded Kindle version. Much success!


  10. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!
    Bring you Good wishes of happiness.

    Sorry for greeting you earlier,, just don't want miss saying this.
    By the way, I'm clotee. It's my first time visiting your blog. I am blogger

    too, and now try my best luck to open an e-store. Nice to know you.


  11. I agree with everything you said, Jim, and I loved the way you said it. Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and a great New Year.

  12. Great article....I really liked it!

  13. Great piece Jim! I agree. If you as the writer can't feel and smell the scene and action, you can't expect the reader to be there with you.

    Thanks for the sample from A Ton of Gold--I'm hooked and will be downloading it for my next read.