Writing was my way of heading into the thick of the action

Don Simkovich sitting in front of laptop outdoors.
Don Simkovich sitting in front of laptop outdoors.
Selfie by Don Simkovich

I was in early grade school when the NBC Nightly News splashed videos and images of the Vietnam War across the television screen. My parents were typically busy upstairs while I watched in our basement’s family room.

What intrigued me was how journalists could cover fights in the jungle and even American POWs being marched through the streets of Hanoi. A desire to help struck me along with marveling over this unusual role of relaying information.

My mother showed me another way of being in the action as a reporter. She wrote for our town’s newspaper and we were eating in a local diner when the fire alarm went off at the volunteer fire station. …

You don’t have to drive far to have a memorable time

Retired aircraft at China Lake Naval Weapons Base, Ridgecrest, CA
Retired aircraft at China Lake Naval Weapons Base, Ridgecrest, CA
Photo by: RuthAS, Wikipedia

I’ve traveled from Los Angeles up the 14 Freeway and onto Highway 395 on my way to Lake Tahoe. There’s a place past Red Rock State Park where the 14 merges into 395 with a sign points east to the town of Ridgecrest and the naval air weapons base.

We were watching four children for a friend, plus our two grandchildren, and decided to travel four hours to Keough Hot Springs in Bishop to give the kids a memorable time on a Saturday.

The gang included two girls and one boy aged 12 to 14 and two boys and one girl aged 5 to 2. …

An urban enclave with an eye toward environmental sustainability along the beaches

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Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Los Angeles is a collection of completely different enclaves with unique environments. Los Angeles’ Westside is a case in point with its own collection of neighborhoods that differ greatly from Santa Monica and Venice Beach to Playa Vista and Westchester. Ocean breezes that cool the area are an attraction but so are the many walkable and bikeable streets.

Do commutes in Los Angeles make you shudder with dread?

Another draw to the Westside is the ability to live close to where you work.

“I know so many people who live within two miles of where they work,” says Limor Zamir, a resident in Westchester and a real estate agent. …

Raw determination and grit gets your narrative rolling

Muscular man holding barbells.
Muscular man holding barbells.
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Writing takes nerve, determination and a resolve to press through to the end and endure the rewrite in order to refine the novel, article, or even email.

Every day, I persevere to start the next story, complete the next article and balance the next client bio, blog post or book. And every day, I often start from the same place. A litany of questions:

  • How will this turn out?
  • Can I make this writing of a professional bio as appreciated as the last order?
  • Will the next novel flow as well as the current one that’s getting decent reviews?

Questions make me uneasy. And yet there’s only one way to answer them and that is to write. Write and then refine through editing. …

A dog as minor character reveals truths about the main characters

Silver Labrador named Silver wearing a bandana.
Silver Labrador named Silver wearing a bandana.
Photo of Silver by Lon Casler Bixby, co-author of Tom Stone Detective Stories

Dogs. Why do we need them and why do they need us? Dogs are a fact of life, even if you don’t have one in your house. They’ve been around for centuries.

At the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, I get a kick out of the paintings from the Middle Ages that show both common people and the elite with a dog or two in the illustration.

In your writing, you can give your main or supporting characters more human traits by bringing dogs into the story, even if they’re not a main part of the storyline.

Think of it this way, we all have little quirks or personal traits. Fictional characters with those traits are highly relatable. …

The moral impact of crime fiction and thrillers

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Cover art by Ben Southgate, property of Don Simkovich and Lon Casler Bixby

Before I get too profound, I know that we all love a great story. We like a good story, but we all love a great story!

Stories that are memorable with likeable characters who have strength, courage and humor draw us to the page.

Can stories shape our thinking, even subconsciously? Perhaps so. When I started writing this, I immediately thought of the musical Oliver with all the pickpocketing and treachery. The story was so well done that I don’t need to draw a moral conclusion from any of it.

And author Lee Child has done a great job of memorializing Jack Reacher in the minds of loyal readers. He’s been that unsavory Savior — the imperfect hero. …

My view on writing crime thriller fiction

Book cover of Tom Stone: Subterfuge with lighthouse, narco sub in stormy water.
Book cover of Tom Stone: Subterfuge with lighthouse, narco sub in stormy water.
Book cover design by Ben Southgate for Don Simkovich and Lon Casler Bixby

Comedy was always my favorite genre. Situation comedies on TV, variety shows like Carol Burnett or Flip Wilson, and well-written movies that made you laugh were always my favorite. But crime and thriller fiction took on new and deeper meaning during the past two decades as I’ve struggled through court issues with family, business ups and downs and continually seeing evil rear its ugly head in so many ways.

Now that I’ve co-authored my fifth novel, Tom Stone: Subterfuge, I’ve realized something about crime and thriller fiction. It’s a wonderful way to present the timeless battle of good versus evil.

Contemporary authors John Grisham of The Firm and Lee Child in his many Jack Reacher stories have shown this time and again. …

Set and achieve small goals to re-build your confidence

Adult looking at child using ropes on climbing wall.
Adult looking at child using ropes on climbing wall.
Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

Spiraling down and out of control is no fun. But circumstances get thrown at us like gusting winds tossing debris in our faces. I’ve been there and I’ve opened my home to others who have watched success slip away, and they can’t grasp it again no matter how hard they try.

You can get back on top with consistent small steps that lead to do-able goals.

Helping others deflated me

My family’s journey from foster care to adoption to guardianship led to having up to 10 combative teens and young adults in our home. …

This morning was eerily familiar, and I don’t mean the election

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Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

After I woke and took the dogs on our little jaunt down the street, I logged on to my laptop and scanned for news of the election. Then I heard my wife exclaim that the woman who’s helping us watch a four year old and two year old brother and sister had to cancel because her mother passed.

Election news, be damned. It wasn’t yet 7 a.m. and my morning was going to change. …

Choose one strategic task and get it done

Little people, men, sharpening color pencils.
Little people, men, sharpening color pencils.
Photo by Lon Casler Bixby, While You Were Sleeping.photography

Sharpen your pencils, sharpen your mind.

This is my advice to myself, but you’re welcome to eavesdrop and adapt it if you have multiple projects you’re juggling.

I’ve got some paying clients I blog for and I’m launching my fifth novel, Tom Stone: Subterfuge, next week on November 10 and I need to update my own marketing materials. In addition, I’ve got a little school work to go over with our middle schooler — and we continue watching a 4 year old and 2 year old for the next few weeks.

So, yes, I risk getting scattered.

And then we’re having a major election tomorrow and the temptation is to click frenetically all over the Internet for updates and the aftermath. There’s always enough to try and toss you off your game. Don’t let outward circumstances derail you. …


Don Simkovich, MA

Don is co-author of the Tom Stone Detective novels on Amazon and writes content for businesses. Visit www.donsimkovich.com / https://socalcontentwriting.com

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