Monday, August 1, 2011

Author Raymond Spitzer Shares His Story And A Giveaway

Please join me in welcoming a author Raymond Spitzer as the specialRaymond guest blogger today as he stops by to talk about writing and his current release, ARIZONA GUY, a regional mystery set in Arizona.

Here’s a brief synopsis of ARIZONA GUY: He didn’t know he was an Arizona guy until someone called him a California guy. Ted White, a high school band director comes to Ajo, Arizona, to house-sit for his aunt and uncle, and to get far away from a broken engagement. But the relatives are missing, and in the process of unraveling the mystery of their disappearance, this small desert town comes to mean more to Ted than he ever could have imagined.

I met Raymond through his publisher, WiDo Publishing Company. Thanks to Raymond and Bruce at WiDo Publishing, I can offer 2 copies of ARIZONA GUY as a giveaway with Raymond‘s post. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.

Raymond is here to tell us ‘his story’ and I think you will find it quite interesting.

I had a difficult time learning to read. My first grade teacher was ineffective, so my parents sat me down each night and made me read. It was sheer torture. Eventually I learned. Reading became a pleasure and then a strength. In high school I took a creative writing class that ignited desire to become a published author. Science fiction was my passion at the time, so I wrote SF stories and accumulated rejection slips. I majored in creative writing and English in college, but I didn’t break through with any sales. (Three stories were published in a fanzine and I co-edited a fan publication which contained lots of my writing, but those didn’t count. I didn’t get paid.)

Facing facts, I became a teacher and writing took a back seat. It wasn’t until a career change to being a public safety telecommunicator that I had the creative energy to go back to writing. Without papers to grade and students to worry about, I started contemplating a mystery set in a small fictional town in southern Arizona just like Ajo. I dreamed about the story and worked on it haphazardly for years. The characters and story evolved but I never got to the end and was never satisfied.

agThen I read a biographical sketch of Henry B. Eyring. His father was a Great Scientist who expected him to follow his footsteps in physics. He tried, but his heart wasn’t in it. Finally his father asked if he pondered physics problems when he wasn’t actively working on them. He said he didn’t. His father said, “Maybe physics isn’t for you.” Freed from those expectations he excelled in his own path and became an important church leader. I applied this lesson to myself. What did I constantly ponder? My story! With renewed vigor I determined to finish it to my liking.

I changed the fictional town to Ajo (if J.A. Jance could name real Arizona towns, so could I) and persevered to the end. I got the story just like I wanted it. Then I tried to sell it. Two rejections later I couldn’t find a suitable publisher. The story had a religious element that would not be suitable for most publishers. I reluctantly put it on the shelf.

A year later I found a new publisher, WiDo Publishing, whose website looked very promising. I dusted off the story, made some changes, and mailed it off. Three weeks later WiDo called and said they were interested in my story, if I would make some changes. I was willing. Instead of the trilogy I had projected, they wanted a whole series of gentle mysteries. They wanted to reduce the religious element (it was too preachy) and take out most of the themes that littered the landscape. 

My editor said, “Save them for future books. Concentrate on the mystery and one theme.”  It took five rewrites, but we made it a saleable novel. The editing refined my conception and made ARIZONA GUY sing. Most people who read it say, “I couldn’t put it down. When is the next book due?” (It’s in the works!)

Raymond, thanks for guest blogging and sharing your story with us. I like the fact that your parents worked with you on reading and that lead you to writing. Wishing you much success with your series.

Now for a bit more background on Raymond. He was born in California and resided in Japan and Montana before his parents saw the light and brought him to Arizona. He grew up in Nogales from the age of three and completed high school and college in Tucson. Raymond taught school in Ajo and Gila Bend for sixteen years before becoming a public safety telecommunicator with Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Ajo. ARIZONA GUY is his first published book.

ARIZONA GUY can be purchased at the Ajo Copper News Book Store in Ajo, Arizona; and online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from WiDo Publishing.

Here is what one reader had to say about ARIZONA GUY: Raymond Spitzer's debut novel, "Arizona Guy", is a charming, suspenseful mystery. Spitzer delightfully depicts the wonderful friendships and occasional dangers of small town life along the border between the United States and Mexico. With it's snappy dialogue and captivating hints of potential romance between "Arizona Guy" Ted White & detective Blanca "Sandy" Sandino, Spitzer's novel earns a well deserved place alongside other classics of the genre such as Robert Parker's Jesse Stone series.  - Rich Radford, (Torrance, California) Daily Breeze.

Now the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win ARIZONA GUY.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of 2 copies of ARIZONA GUY will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, Aug. 15.

Now what do you constantly ponder? Share your thoughts and thanks for stopping by.


  1. Hi Mason and Raymond .. interesting story .. and how you got started writing etc .. Then how you found WiDo Publishing .. and how they stripped your book - to give you more opportunities .. and it sounds like it's working ..

    Enjoy the week .. cheers Hilary

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Raymond.

    Raymond - I wish you well with Arizona Guy. What an interesting way to combine mystery and the small-town atmosphere. And thanks for telling us your WiDo story, too; I'm glad that it worked out for you.

  3. Raymond, thanks again for stopping by and sharing your story with us. Good luck with your series.

    Hilary and Margot, good morning and thanks for dropping by.

  4. Editors can be so helpful that way--showing us what's clutter. So glad it worked out so well for you!

  5. What a great, positive post!

    Good luck, Raymond, and thank you for sharing your story.

    Dorte H.

  6. After all of that, I wonder if he'll ever return to science fiction?

  7. I've lived in the desert and I'm sure the book's setting is a character all on its own in the book.

  8. As a lifelong resident of a small Arizona community and a special education teacher, I was very impressed with "Arizona Guy" by Raymond Spitzer, especially after reading his life story on your blog. As a special education teacher, I am constantly trying to instill in my students that they can dare to reach for their dreams despite their handicaps. Mr. Spitzer does just that and will be a good inspiration for my students. The story also is very believable and very readable for my students. But don't let that aspect stop serious mystery readers from trying this book. I am a self professed mystery novel junkie - and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading. I read the whole book in one day - I just could not put it down. Consequently, I will be buying two more copies of the book - one to donate to our school library and one for our public library. I can't wait to read the next book. When did you say it was coming out, Mr. Spitzer?

  9. A very inspirational post! I like the example of how Raymond got his inspiration. Sometimes it takes awhile to understand what our hearts are trying to tell us. And I like Arizona Guy, it's a great read. I'm a fan of the cozy mystery but this one has a young guy as the protagonist instead of a woman, which I see as a nice twist of the genre.

  10. I'd been wanting to learn more about the story behind the story, and this interview was perfect. Thank you very much, Raymond, and to you too, Mason.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.