[Elderhostel Mysteries & Fiction Writing Techniques]

[Photo, Peter Abresch]
Photo By Roswita Case
Everything You
Wanted To Know About
Peter E. Abresch
(and then some)

Updated 7/29/09

    What do I tell you?

    I was brought up on Staten Island, New York City, went to high school in Texas, quitting at seventeen and only going back a number of years later--when I realized how dumb I was--to finish high school at night in New York, and on to college at Texas Western University, now called UTEP, in El Paso.

    I've held many knock-about jobs, sacking groceries, fueling private airplanes, surveying West Texas oilfields, and a professional dancer. After college I embarked on a career with the U.S. Government and spent the first twenty years as a geodesist, a sort of super-surveyor, traveling extensively through Southeast Asia, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Africa, and Europe, to places with civilizations four and five thousand years old, and places where they still lived in the jungle. I changed careers to a systems computer programmer with the National Weather Service for the last twelve years of government service, creating many data communication programs still in use today.

    Funny thing about the computer programming. I've been writing fiction for a long time, but all of it sandwiched around the days I was programming, as if programming satisfied the same creative part of my brain. But as I put away that career, I was called back to my first love. Allow me to warn you. Fiction writing is addictive. You laugh, but once I started building worlds on paper, I could never turn off that seductive siren-call that still whispers to me in the middle of the night. Rejection slips--and I've had more than my share--never stilled it.

    Nor did frustration. I remember once during lean times, way back in the days of typewriters, when my 'Q' key got stuck. I kept on writing using the '+' key for a substitute. Then another key got stuck and I substituted a '@' key. Then one day I hit the return bar and the platen didn't advance. I picked up the typewriter and smashed it against the floor. Picked it up and smashed it again. And smashed it again. When I looked up my wide-eyed wife, Annemarie, was staring at me from the doorway. I said I needed a new typewriter. She didn't argue.

    My writing day usually starts around six in the morning and continues, stopping only for coffee breaks, until eleven. Depending. If I'm into first drafts my imagination goes flatter quicker and I look for excuses to quit around ten. If I'm rewriting I'm more disciplined. After exercising--I go at it hot and heavy an hour a day--lunch, and a nap, I'm back on the computer at two-thirty and continue to six. After diner, I often go back for another hour or two.

    In the last few years I've had to carve out an hour a day for music. Three years ago, and the age of seventy-five, I started taking banjo lessons and now I play with the folk choir at church. Nothing big, although I started out picking, I just strum because I'm not willing to devote that much time away from the computer.

    In my backstory years, those before chapter one as a published author, I wiled away my time as a leader of various church programs, a sometime bonsaist, a builder of three sailboats, and, with my wife and five young sons, I hammered and nailed together the 3400 square foot house we've lived in for for twenty years, down in Southern Maryland's Calvert County. My sons are grown now. We have four grandsons and two granddaughters. Annemarie and I have moved into town house condo and next year, 2010, we will have been married for fifty years. What's amazing is, she's still my gal.

    Writing success has come to me later in life, with the publishing of my first novel, BLOODY BONSAI, and now that I realize all the work I have to do in publicizing the things–I'm not very good at publicity--I'm wondering why I wanted it so badly. It still beats the alternative.

    I'm still not a NYT bestseller. I'm still not a millionaire. Nor do I rule the universe, but my Father does.

If you'd like to see the latest Elderhostel Mystery Newsletter and keep up with the newest mystery in progress, click here [NEWSLETTER]. You can also sign up there to receive future copies by email if you like.

WOM Publicity Company

    My success as an author is absolutely dependent on your Word-Of-Mouth recommendations. The Elderhostel mysteries so far have been published by a small presses with limited resources. Ditto the likes of me, one who has mellowed into fine wine. Okay, okay, the mellowed-into-fine-wine bit might be over the top, but it beats saying one who has advanced to old geezerdom.

    If you like the James P. Dandy Elderhostel Mysteries, may I ask you to join my WOM Publicity Company by touting this series to your all your friends, enemies, acquaintances, neighbors, and relatives. All of these things will ensure that grouchy old James P. Dandy and sweet Dodee Swisher continue to venture forth on Elderhostels where, no doubt, they will find a delicious murder or two.

    And you'll earn my heartfelt gratitude.

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