Midvale Author Karl Beckstrand Debuts Two New BooksJan 26, 2016 10:37AM ● By Amanda Butler
By Amanda Butler | [email protected]
Midvale - Karl Beckstrand is an international publisher and speaker who has lived in Midvale for 16 years. He is the award-winning author of 15 books and more than 40 online titles. He recently published a new book for children, “The Dancing Flamingos of Lake Chimichanga,” and has branched out into writing novels.
“I have a new suspense novel set in the Nevada silver rush: ‘To Swallow the Earth,’” Beckstrand said.
The novel is also known by the title “A Sky So Big.” Beckstrand inherited the manuscript from his grandfather, who was born in Canada but raised in Northern California, and “grew up exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains on horseback nearly 100 years ago.”
The story “wasn’t quite complete,” Beckstrand said. “It needed a lot of character development so that the characters were believable. There were some holes in the plot, and it generally needed some polishing so that it would flow.”
One challenge Beckstrand encountered while working on the novel “was to develop the characters while preserving the action and authentic vernacular.” Beckstrand tried to maintain his grandfather’s vocabulary, “because I thought having lived that life he’d really used a lot of unique words.”
Beckstrand described the novel’s main character as, “Outcast, rebel, different (half-Mexican, raised by Indians), loyal, fearless.” He also noted, “in addition to a tough, dark hero, there’s a gutsy female lead who’s unintimidated in the worst kinds of opposition.”
“Wade Forester has to stay in the shadows. His father has disappeared, and his sister won’t speak to anyone,” Beckstrand wrote about the main character in the novel. Of the female lead, he wrote, “Patricia Laughlin is searching for her family as well. Few people gain her trust or approval. Wade must decide if risking his life to help Patricia means aiding the enemy. And Patricia must choose a killer to trust with her life.”
The novel was recently named as a finalist for a Laramie Award, a competition that “recognizes emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genres of Western Fiction.” The competition will award a total of over $30,000 in cash and prizes to the winners.
“A Sky So Big” will be released as a graphic novel this summer. Meanwhile, Beckstrand has continued to find story ideas in his family history. “I’m enjoying putting together biographies of late [mostly family stories]. They inspire me,” Beckstrand said.
One of these biographies was a story for children, titled “Anna’s Prayer.” Beckstrand described it as “a true story of my great aunt who came from Sweden.” The experience of writing and publishing that book “prompted me to look for more family stories that I thought would be interesting. I have a couple more now that are written and they just need to be illustrated.”
“The Dancing Flamingos of Lake Chimichanga” is a picture book featuring “quirky birds that revel, feast, and dance on the shores of a shimmering lake.” The story features counting activities for children ages 3 – 8.
“Like most of the kids books it just kind of came to me. Just an off the wall idea I scribbled down about these flamingos being goofy,” Beckstrand said.
While Beckstrand likes to entertain people, his books have a teaching objective.
“I write mostly to save families from ‘I’m bored’ disease,” he said. “But yes, my stories teach language, counting, courage, friendship, sharing, faith, cooking, astronomy, geography and entomology. So I guess the idea is that kids will gain skills but not know it because they’re so busy being entertained.”
In addition to authoring books, Beckstrand writes scripts for TV and radio, and is working on a screenplay, which he described as “a historic adventure set in pre-Columbian America.” Beckstrand has also run Premio Publishing and Gozo Books since 2004. He teaches media at a state college, and speaks on traditional publishing versus digital self-publishing.
Beckstrand offered the following advice to aspiring writers:
“If you want to go with a traditional publisher you need to be prepared to be very persistent, because it can take a long time before you get noticed.”
He also stressed the importance of finding a good editor.
“Whether you go traditional or self-publishing, it’s always a good idea to pay an editor. A traditional publisher has their own editors, but if you submit to them and it’s poorly written, it’s less likely you’re going to get attention.”
He also advised: “Write from your heart—from what you know firsthand. Don’t try to write about something that you think is popular (unless that is what you know).”
More information about Karl Beckstrand and his books can be found at http://KarlBeckstrand.com.