BOTTINEAU - Frank Scully finds plenty of fodder for a good story both in history and in his experiences in law, the military and business.
He's been writing those stories for the last 20 years, and as of Jan. 1, he can say he now is a published author.
Scully's first published work, "Resurrection Garden," is available in e-book format through MuseItUp Publishing, which also is making the mystery novel available through major e-book online sites. In the weeks ahead, Scully will be promoting his book on a blog tour. He will be giving interviews and interacting with readers at various literary blog sites.
Jill Schramm/MDN •
Frank Scully sits at his work station with his e-book, “Resurrection Garden,” on his computer screen Dec. 4.
In addition to promoting his book, he's working to get his other completed books ready for publication while developing plots for even more mysteries.
"I just love a good mystery," said Scully, an affiliated member of the Mystery Writers of America. "Over the course of my life, I have read every type of novel, but my favorites have always been the mysteries."
When Scully was 10 years old, he came down with rheumatic fever and was stuck in bed for an entire summer.
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"I read a book a day at least," he said, recalling how the days spent with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys whetted his appetite for mysteries.
A native of Bottineau, Scully left his hometown in 1963 to earn history and law degrees from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He served as Judge Advocate General Corps officer in the Army in the United States, Vietnam and Thailand, where he met his wife, Mayuree. They raised twin sons, both recent law school graduates.
Scully earned his master's degree in international business from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. His plan to get his doctorate was sidetracked when a job came up with Hughes Aircraft in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he worked until 1987. He then started his own small business importing eyeglass rims and wool blankets.
In 1995, in the dead of winter, he jolted his family from California to North Dakota.
"When I left here in 1963, I had no intention of ever coming back here for anything more than a short visit. Life has a way of saying not to say never," he said.
Working as quotes and project manager for Turtle Mountain Corp. in Dunseith, he was able to be near his mother, then in a care facility, and restore the family home in Bottineau. When business slowed down at the plant several years ago, he took on a new job as contracts manager with Goodrich Corporation in Jamestown. He and his wife commute to Bottineau every weekend in the summer and as often as they can during the rest of the year.
"This is home," Scully said.
Scully's father, William, was born in 1898 in a bedroom in the family home, built in the 1880s and enlarged in the 1890s. Scully was 5 years old in 1950 when he first moved with his family into the house, one of the oldest in Bottineau.
At one time, his parents were the largest breeder of singing canaries in the United States. Their old "birdhouse" still stands.
"They raised the canaries - 2,000 to 3,000 a year - and shipped them all over the United States. In those days, they shipped them by train," Scully said. The birds could live for days in the special crates with plenty of bird food and cut apples for liquid, and train personnel took good care of them, he said.
Scully remembers it was his job to take care of the parakeets that his parents kept in a separate bird house. The family also had cattle and horses on a farm near town.
He grew up with an appreciation for history and also discovered over the years that he had a flair for writing. At his wife's urging, he took up writing seriously in 1990. He finished his first book, "Blood Sins," but found that writing was the easy part.
"It's tougher than winning the lottery to get published," he said.
Despite the odds facing new authors, Scully persisted. He found a small, family-run publishing house willing to print his book, but the opportunity dissolved when the company's principal became ill and new projects stopped in 2006.
Scully was busy with his job at Goodrich so didn't give the book much thought until learning that some people he knew from the publishing industry were starting a new company, MuseItUp, in Quebec, Canada. Scully submitted "Resurrection Garden," one of six books that he has written. The company picked up the book and will publish two of Scully's other books later this year and a fourth in January 2012.
"Resurrection Garden" is set in the Turtle Mountains in 1904. Scully scoured back issues of the Bottineau Courant from that era to weave historical data into his story about lawman Jake Turner, a man with a reputation he wants to bury and a target for killers trying to cover up a murder.
Scully, who is working on his seventh book, plans to produce a "decade series" running from the early 1900s to modern times. Each of his books have different settings, from Europe to Nebraska. Scully is considering writing a book set the 1930s in North Dakota.
Scully said he typically starts out a book knowing only his main character and the crime.
"From there, as I get writing, it goes where the character and the story takes it. It doesn't always get to the same ending I originally had in mind," he said. "When I am writing, there's a movie going on in my head and my job is to get it down. ... I want readers to see that movie as they are reading. You give them just enough to get the movie running, which is why you never fully describe the main character. You let them fill in some things."
Now that e-books have taken a book's fate out of the hands of elite publishing companies and enabled authors to go directly to the readers, what is important are positive, online reader reviews that drive sales, Scully said. With e-books, talented authors can build up readership slowly and be successful.
"In the old days of the paper book, you were given very little leeway. You had to do it very quickly. If you didn't, your book ended up getting pulled off the shelf and the next one came along," Scully said. With e-books, he said, "There's no such thing as shelf space. You are always there."
As Scully adds "writer" to his career list, he remains open to whatever life brings from here.
"You have to go with the flow. Careers don't stay the same. You can't start off in one thing and hope to retire in it anymore," he said.
"It would be nice if this turns into my retirement career," he said of his writing. His goal for his new book isn't necessarily monetary wealth, though.
"My whole thing is I hope people enjoy it when they do read it," he said.