The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.
The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES Bill Cronin's New Book: Joe and the Governor.
Author Bill Cronin is the author of The Song of the Mockingbird, Ruby's Story, Dial Tone and the Jack McNamara Chronicles.
Joe and the Governor
Jack McNamara Chronicles Book 4
Author: Bill Cronin
Joe is homeless living behind Billie St. John’s restaurant in Key West, Florida. He’s running from something he can’t face. For four years, he’s lived in anonymity, avoiding any contact that might expose him to the people searching for him. Joe has a chance meeting with the governor of Florida. The encounter changes the course of his life and gives him the courage to face his enemies.
Excerpt from Joe and the Governor
I’ve often stood on Whitehead Street across the road from Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum and tried to imagine the scope of Hemingway’s career. One of the most complex men ever to take a number-two lead pencil to paper, Hemingway wrote seven novels, six collections of short stories, two works of non-fiction and collected the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. But my reason for gawking at his home had nothing to do with his inspiring career.
I wanted to understand what led Hemingway to buy this house. It wasn’t a large structure. Even by the standards of 1931, it wasn’t ostentatious. Why here? Why this particular spot? I was here in Key West to find a place of my own. I already knew I wanted something quiet and secluded. My home in Mount Dora, Florida had a separate, detached building I used as a studio that had suited my purposes. I was curious about Hemingway’s and whether examining it would offer something I hadn’t considered.
From my research, I knew of several reasons he selected Key West. First, the Florida Straights between Key West and Cuba was home to the best sport fishing in the world. Fishing drew Hemingway to Key West in 1928, a place to unwind from seven years as an ex-patriot in Paris. In 1931, he and his wife Pauline purchased the abandoned, neglected Whitehead Street mansion amid the great depression. They bought it for taxes owed—a mere eight-thousand dollars. For a perspective, if they had purchased the home today, they would have paid one-hundred-twenty-eight-thousand for property worth more than a million dollars. On just over an acre of ground, the location offered privacy. The three thousand square feet building was large enough to handle his growing family and provided space for frequent guests. Numerous French doors opened onto the wrap-around verandas on both floors. They provided adequate ventilation to combat Key West’s stifling heat and humidity.
While all these were positive considerations, what I think attracted Hemingway to this particular spot was the detached two-story building to the rear of the property. A garage took up the bottom floor. Tattered servant’s quarters occupied the second, which he had converted to a studio. Hemingway needed a workroom away from distractions. At the time, he’d been writing the manuscript for Death in the Afternoon and a place to write, I thought, would’ve been foremost in his mind. In time, Hemingway had a bridge constructed from his second story veranda, near his bedroom, to the second story workroom above the garage.
As I stood and observed the Hemingway grounds, what stood out was an ill-constructed, six-foot high, redbrick wall. It surrounded the property on three sides. In 1935, Hemingway hired Toby Bruce, a family friend and woodworker from Piggott, Arkansas to build it. Having no experience as a bricklayer, Bruce’s inexperience was evident in the meandering lines of the out-of-level bricks. A tour company in Key West had added Hemingway’s abode to their circuit. Hemingway had built the wall to keep the curious from wandering about his yard. It took Bruce an entire summer to construct the barrier. While city leaders viewed the structure as an eyesore, Hemingway was well pleased. Bruce may have been a novice, but the wall still stands after more than sixty years and several hurricanes.
I hadn’t considered a fence for security. In Mount Dora, FL, five hours to the north, my home sat on a lake in a suburban setting two miles from the city center. Not once, in all the years I’d lived and written there, did I have any issues with invasive tourists. When I compared my career to Hemingway’s, the commercial success of my novels and movies had exceeded his. I’d written more novels, and my gross sales had been greater than his even adjusting for the differences in value of the dollar from the 1930s and 40s to 1996. Yet, even in the early stages of his career, he was such an icon he had to construct a wall to keep out curious fans. It was humbling. While my work had enjoyed commercial success, I knew nothing I’d written could compete with Hemingway’s two literary prizes.
I’d been fortunate. I’d spent my life doing what I love to do; write novels. I had no pretentions about what I had written. I picked genre fiction and topics designed to appeal to the masses. While I’d considered writing a more literary work, the need to make a living predominated. In that endeavor, I had done well. I wanted to write a book like, The Old Man and the Sea, something noteworthy. I’d always been in awe of the simplicity of the subject matter of Hemingway’s most praised work. But I had yet to find a subject whose theme rose to the level of compelling greatness. I’d just refreshed my contract with Reynolds & Ryan Publishing. I’d negotiated and received wider latitude in what I wrote, and they’d agreed to buy three non-genre books of my choosing. I’d hoped to pursue a topic of substance, a serious attempt at literature. The “what” had eluded me. As with so many of my books, the ideas for them often came in serendipitous fashion. My attempt at prize winning literature would have to wait. I had matters more pressing. I needed to decide if I was going to move to Key West. If I was serious about the move, I needed to find a home that met my needs.
Three months ago, following the completion of my last novel, I’d announced at a party thrown by my half-sister Billie that I’d intended to sell my house in Mount Dora and move to Key West. At the time, there were several factors pushing me in that direction. Then it seemed like a stellar idea. Standing across the street from Hemingway’s, I was having second thoughts.
First, I’d just gone through a divorce after an eight-year marriage to Emily. A three-year writing dry spell caused by severe depression sent me to an emotional bottom. The spiral downward didn’t wear well on Emily. Complicating matters, Emily was my manager and editor, a job she still held. During my bout with depression, Emily sought the solace of my best friend, Bob Decker, who was also going through a rough patch in his marriage. The mutual commiseration evolved into an affair, which Emily kept secret until the ink was dry on our divorce papers. Two weeks before she would marry Decker, she took me out to a public place and confessed her affair. She said she kept it a secret because she didn’t think I was emotionally stable enough to handle such difficult news. She made it clear she liked working for me and wanted to continue in the role of manager and editor. At that point, I needed Emily’s skills. While writing novels takes skill, the editing and revision process takes a mediocre work and transforms it into something noteworthy. She was more than a line or copy editor. She analyzed each draft for content, guiding my revisions and she drove me to raise the level of my writing. Emily and I were a good team. The work we produced was successful. Then, I was in no position to fire her. But I didn’t have to be in the same town with her and Decker either. There were too many memories of Emily in my home in Mount Dora. Even though I still had to work with her, I didn’t want to be around her.
Second, my half-sister Billie lived in Key West. Within the last year, we had reunited. I hadn’t seen her in thirty years. She owned a restaurant in Key West, The Mangrove, on the corner of Duval Street and Olivia Street, a block from Hemingway’s house. My father had just recently passed away while my divorce from Emily was in the process. Aside from my aunt Glory Jean, my mother’s sister, who lived in Savannah, Billie was my only living relative. Following Emily’s news, I needed that familial connection. When my depression reached rock bottom, I’d come to Key West to find my sister and to attempt to reconcile our relationship.
Third, when I was fourteen, Billie was instrumental in introducing me to Jody Holland, the first girl I ever kissed and loved. Tragedy struck Jody’s family and cut our budding romance short in a disturbing way. At the same time, I was searching for Billie, Jody had moved to Key West and wandered into Billie’s restaurant and recognized Billie immediately. They became instant friends. When I came to Key West looking for Billie, she reconnected me with Jody. It was Jody and Billie who helped me work my way out of my depression and put me on the road to writing again.
In the months following, my relationship with Emily imploded. Jody and I found the chemistry that drew us together as kids produced the same reaction more than thirty years later. I was in love with her and, as time progressed, it expanded and grew more comfortable. She owned a successful business in Key West and had deep roots there. If I wanted to be with her, I needed to make the move…
Mystery, Contemporary, Fiction
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After a 30 year career in the telecommunications industry, Bill sold a telecommunications and business management consultancy in 2000 to pursue a writing career. Bill wrote for the Orlando Sentinel briefly following military service during the Vietnam War and during his career as a consultant, Bill wrote frequently for the NTCA Rural Telecommunications Magazine. In 1995 Bill wrote a non-fiction book on the opportunities for local telephone companies to resell long distance service.
In 1994, Bill began work on his first novel, “Dial Tone” which he published as an e-book on Amazon/Kindle in July 2012. Since, Bill has written and published four other novels including “The Song of the Mockingbird” 2013, “Ruby’s Story 2014,” and “The Tainted Lady” 2014 and “Letting Go,” 2015.
Bill and his wife Linda live on the East Coast of Central Florida
Author's Book List
- Jack McNamara Chronicles Book 3
Jody Holland has suppressed memories of the morning in 1961 when her mother, Helen, suffering from Postpartum Psychosis, murdered her father, her four siblings and tried, but failed, to shoot her. Ruled mentally incompetent, authorities never charged Jody’s mother for her crimes and, after ten years, doctors released her from a mental hospital.
After 35 years of estrangement, Helen sends a message to Jody seeking a reunion. Before Jody agrees, she enlists the help of Jack McNamara to investigate the horrific event to make sense of what happened and why.
Set in Key West, this is the third novel in the Jack McNamara Chronicles.
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The Tainted Lady
Major Patrick O’Brian, an army intelligence officer, in WWII, is assigned a team to fly a B-24 Liberator from Benina, Libya to the Austrian Alps to rescue a defecting scientist who is the Nazi’s top chemical weapons expert and who has developed the perfect battlefield nerve agent. The mission was to retrieve the scientist, the chemicals, and the lab notes to keep them out of the hands of the Nazi’s.
On their way back to Libya, the B-24 is caught in a hurricane-like storm, flew off course and made an emergency landing in the Sand Sea of the Sahara Desert. Once on the ground, the storm raged and the sifting sand from a nearby dune engulfs the plane and entombs the crew, the scientist and one of the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction invented by man.
The plane covered in sand is undetected for 50 plus years until a storm of equal intensity uncovers the plane and a pilot report of the downed plane comes to the attention Muammar Gaddafi.
Dana O’Brian, the major’s granddaughter, herself a major in Army Intelligence, having engaged in a search to learn the circumstances of her grandfathers’ death gains access to the nature of her grandfather’s mission, finds the plane with satellite surveillance, and alerts U.S. military brass to the threat the nerve agent would present if it fell into the hands of Gaddafi.
O’Brian leads of team to Libya to recover the remains of the crew, the chemical weapons and documentation and to rescue the plane. The mission is to find the plane before Gaddafi discovers its contents and uses the weapon against U.S. interests.
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- Jack McNamara Chronicles Book 2
Jack McNamara’s terminally ill Aunt Ruby has come to live her remaining days with him. She has a story that she wants her best-selling, author, nephew to write, a written legacy she wants to leave before she passes. Skeptical at first that the story has merit, Ruby quickly draws Jack into a heart rending tale of love, betrayal and a family dealing with bigotry and racism in the Deep South in 1938.
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The Song of the Mockingbird
- Jack McNamara Chronicles Book 1
Reynolds and Ryan Publishing paid best-selling author, Jack McNamara, more than a million dollars in advanced royalties for three action-adventure novels. Only one problem: Jack cannot write a single word. Devastatingly depressed and hopelessly blocked Jack embarks on a personal journey back to the summer of 1961 when three childhood events created a psychological time-bomb that, thirty-five years later, threatened to destroy his marriage and end his writing career.
Vibrant characters, settings like Charleston, Savannah and Key West and a tightly wound plot make this novel a “must read.” The Song of the Mockingbird is Bill Cronin’s second novel following five-star reviews for his first novel “Dial Tone.”
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Sam Thompson accepts an assignment in Glasgow, Kentucky managing a small rural telephone company. He soon discovers that the comptroller, John Stanko, embezzled nearly a million dollars, and launched a hostile takeover bid to conceal his theft. In Stanko’s race to complete the takeover before authorities can bring charges against him, Stanko -- with the help of employees and board members -- instigates a union takeover, publically smears the reputation of the company and its board of directors and leads a crusade of threats and intimidation against Thompson and his family.
Thompson moved his two young daughters, Rebecca and Melanie to Glasgow when his wife died unexpectedly. Amid the business warfare, Thompson falls in love with Georgia Riley, the editor/owner of a small daily newspaper, a critical ally in Thompson’s very public campaign to save the company.
This well written unique novel captures life in a small town and the challenge many small rural telephone companies face to avoid extinction in the face of intense competition.
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