April 4 2012 12:00 AM

Loren D. Estleman is the keynote speaker at this year's Rally of Writers


The Lansing Rally of Writers has been in it for the long haul. For 25 years, the rally has promoted writing and writers in Lansing.

This year’s program features noted crime and western writer Loren D. Estleman who, in a career spanning more than 45 years, has written 60 novels and hundreds of short stories.

Estleman´s fingers can never be far from an old-school typewriter.

A typewriter? 

“I’m not giving up on the typewriter,” Estleman, 59, said, in an interview from his home in rural Whitmore Lake — but then everything is rural in Whitmore Lake, which suits Estleman just fine.

“I’ve never been online and I’m never going online,” Estleman said.

Only recently has Estleman acquiesced to publishers’ demands of creating electronic files of his work, leaving that chore up to his spouse and fellow mystery writer Deborah Morgan.

Estleman still prefers using his 1967 Olympia and his 1923 Underwood to bang out his novels, including his more than 30 books featuring Detroit private eye Amos Walker. Walker, who would be just as home in the 1930s Detroit as he is in his novels’ contemporary setting, is a tough-talking, no-nonsense gumshoe who is quick with his fists and quicker with the quip.

Estleman said his morning keynote address at the Rally of Writers would stress that “writing well is the best revenge for young writers.”

He says writing well offers the best chance to get published and the best chance to make yourself critic-proof.

Estleman, whose career began when he submitted his first short story to a magazine when he was 15, is not a fan of self-publishing.

“It should be the last resort for writers. It’s so easy to self-publish that too many young writers don’t go the regular route,” he said.

And he sees a downside to that. 

“You are never going to learn the craft unless you face editors,” he said.

Estleman said he has belonged to a writers´ group for 30 years. It meets every two weeks. He said a writers´ group helps make you aware of your audience and “what rings untrue.”

“Every writer after awhile becomes too familiar with what they are doing,” he said.  He said writers´ groups make you aware of that and help you to avoid that common mistake.

Estleman said his advice to young or first-time writers is to “have faith in yourself.” He also believes that every reader needs feedback during the writing process: “Establish someone close to you whose opinion you trust.”

The author is a stickler for detail: It still bothers him that in one of his Walker books he placed the iconic giant Uniroyal tire from the 1964 World’s Fair on the wrong side of I-94 in Allen Park.

He laments the decline of newspapers in the United States. He calls the situation “the new Dark Ages.” “Who will keep the public record?” he asks. 

Estleman always has several books in the pipeline, and one that he is very excited about is a fictional look at real-life gangster Al Capone. “Capone is very current in our culture,” he said, “and the 800-page manuscript is the longest I ever submitted.”

The rally takes place April 14 at the Conference Center of the Lansing Community College West Campus.

A free Rally Warm-Up, titled “After Red Tails: Struggles on the Home Front,” starts at 7 p.m. April 13 at the Schuler Books & Music Eastwood Towne Center location. Authors Lawrence P. Scott and Geoff Blair will discuss the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. Scott co-authored the book “Double V: The Civil Rights Struggle of the Tuskegee Airmen,” and Blair is the grandson of one of the Tuskegee aviators.

The 2012 Rally of Writers features 16 break-out sessions with authors, playwrights and poets.

Mardi Link, who has two books focusing on Michigan history and a forthcoming memoir, will will conduct a luncheon workshop on essay writing titled “Three Books, the Hard Way.”

Okemos author Lev Raphael will conduct a workshop on Estleman’s nemesis, the e-book. Local poets Dennis Hinrichsen and Anita Skeen will conduct workshops on various aspect of poetry. 

Other writers scheduled for the event include Andrea King Collier (multimedia storytelling), Mark Crilley (young adult graphic novels), George Dila (scenes in fiction), Michael Dwyer (travel writing), Carol Finke (magic realism), Meagan Francis (parenting), Dennis Hinrichsen (poetry), Steven Piziks (“Nuts & Bolts: Paradox of Cliches”) and Rob Roznowski (playwriting).

A Rally of Writers

Saturday, April 14

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Conference Center, Lansing Community College West Campus in Delta Township

5708 Cornerstone Dr., Lansing

$70 advance registration; $50 students with valid student ID

$80 registration at the door; $60 students with valid student ID

$15 lunch (lunch purchase required for Mardi Link´s presentation)

Rally Warm-Up: “After Red Tails: Struggles on the Home Front”

7 p.m. Friday, April 13 

Schuler Books & Music, 2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing

(517) 372-4294