Robert Strzalko

Robert Strzalko


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Loves Park, IL
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About Me

Hi. I'm the author of A BULLET FOR TWO, THE COLOR OF DREAMS and THE SUN LOVES EVERY PLANET. A BULLET FOR TWO won a NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Western Category Fall 2011. THE SUN LOVES EVERY PLANET also won a NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Poetry Category Fall 2011. I'm currently working on several novels. One is based on my experiences in Alaska. The other is about a painter that becomes famous in the late 1960's in Chicago.

A BULLET FOR TWO (A Western Novel, Published 2010)

Chapter 1

The screaming grew louder and louder as Jeb McCulloch approached the stable. He expected most of the town to be asleep but something was taking place, something horrible. The last time he heard someone wailing with that much pain and agony was when he was on the front. It brought back terrible memories for him, memories of a man yelling and screaming as he begged for someone to shoot him and put him out of his misery. No one did. They just laid there all night beneath the stars and falling leaves waiting for him to die.
Jeb thought about shooting him but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. When the man finally died as the early morning sun broke over the gray, autumn horizon no one was more relieved than Jeb. It was the most horrifying thing he had ever witnessed. He had seen plenty of men die but there was something about the anguish in that man’s voice that he couldn’t forget.
Rather than dismounting with ease, as was his usual custom, he removed his poncho and drew his pistol. The starry sky was so quiet it made her desperate cries seem even louder as he walked towards the stable.
When he came to the door he found a crack to look through. His eyes searched the murky darkness until they settled on some shadowy shapes. As he strained to see what was happening, he was able to make out a man’s arm, then another. It was three men. Two of them were holding a woman by the arms and the third was lying on top of her.
A dog ran over to where Jeb was standing and started sniffing around. He tried to silence the dog but it was too late. The dog started growling and barking at him.
“Jim, why don’t you go see what that dog’s barking at”, he heard a voice say.
Jeb threw the door open and pointed his revolver at the men.
“The dog was barking at me”, he said, as the men released her arms and scrambled to their feet. They raised their hands in the air as Jeb looked at the man lying on top of her and said, “If I was you I’d pull my pants up.”
“Now don’t go getting any crazy ideas”, the fat man said as he pushed himself up to his knees. “This isn’t what it looks like.”
Jeb looked down at the woman sprawled out on the floor amidst the dirty straw. There were no tears on her face, only surprised relief.
“All right, how about if you boys move away from her and stand over there in the moonlight where I can see you a little better”, Jeb said, as he took a step towards them.
“Mister, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. If I was you, I’d get back on my horse and just keep riding until you come to the next town”, the fat man said, as he stood up and buckled his belt.
“Yeah, why’s that?” Jeb asked.
“Well you see, I just happen to be the sheriff of this here town. Before you go getting any ideas in your head about shooting someone I just thought you should know that.”
Jeb took his eyes off the men and looked down at the woman again. She was barely able to collect what was left of her shredded dress and cover herself.
“You’re the sheriff?” Jeb asked, confused.
“That’s right. I’m the sheriff.”
“Who would these other two fellows be?” Jeb asked.
The sheriff smiled.
“That’s Jim Drake”, he said, as he pointed to the smaller of the two men. “He’s the mayor of this here town.”
Jeb removed his gaze from the sheriff and looked at the mayor. He didn’t look back. He stood motionless with his hands in the air looking at the ground.
“And who would this other one be?” Jeb asked the sheriff.
“Why he’s the owner of this here stable we’re standing in and half the other things in this town.”
“And who is she?” Jeb asked.
“Just a girl we were having a little fun with.” The sheriff said.
“It doesn’t look to me like she was too willing to play along with you boys.”
The sheriff smiled again.
“Oh, she likes to play. Maybe we got a little bit too rough is all. Just having some fun. Come on, you know what it’s like.”
“No. I don’t know what it’s like”, Jeb replied, as he took another step towards them. “Are one of you boys married to her?”
“No stranger”, the mayor answered, as he raised his head and looked at Jeb. “Look, I’m sorry about all of this. I know it isn’t right. Please don’t shoot us.”
“Well, I guess that depends on you”, Jeb said.
“Look mister, we’ve got no quarrel with you”, the mayor said. “I promise I won’t do it again. Give me another chance”, he pleaded, as he dropped to his knees and put his hands together as though he was praying.
“Shut up Jim”, the sheriff scolded him. “What he means to say is if you get back on your horse and ride out of here like this never happened we can all just forget about it.”
Jeb drew in a deep breath as he reached down with his left arm and helped the woman to her feet. He was startled. It was the first time he got a closer look at her bloody face. She looked more like a girl than a woman.
“Why don’t you go outside and get some fresh air”, he said. “There’s a poncho out there you can put on.”
She nodded her head as she brushed her hair away from her face.
“Now, just a minute”, the sheriff said”, as she began walking towards the door. “This has gone on long enough. Just what are you planning to do? You can’t just let her go.”
Jeb pulled the hammer back on his pistol and pointed it directly at the sheriff’s forehead.
“Mister, you’re making a big mistake. The kind of mistake that you’ll live to regret”, the sheriff said, as she closed the door behind her.
“Well, I’m in a bit of a bind here aren’t I? I can’t exactly turn you in to the sheriff.”
“That’s right mister. You’re in a bind.” The sheriff said, with an arrogant smile.
“I can’t just let you go after what you did to that girl.”
“Sure you can”, the sheriff said, as he turned and looked at his wealthy friend. “We can make it worth your while. Can’t we Herb?”
“That we can”, the rich man said. “Buy you anything you want.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Jeb answered.
The sheriff looked at Jeb again but he was no longer smiling.
“Mister if you shoot us every lawman and bounty hunter from Denver to Texas will be out looking for you. Hell, she’s just a half breed girl. What’s it matter to you anyway?”


Check it out!!

We got a chance to catch up with Award Winning Author, Robert Strzalko for a one on one interview covering his thoughts on the publishing industry, his current projects, and of course an in depth exclusive coverage of his favorite topic, writing...

You can follow and connect with Robert on the links below...

Q: How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was attending school at Eastern Illinois University. I didn’t write that much or that often but over the years it started adding up. When I was in my late twenties I decided to really devote myself to writing and to dedicate my life to it. I also took an art class and started drawing more at that time as well.

Q: How many books do you have published?


Q: What events in your life prompted you to write your first novel?

My first novel, A Bullet For Two, is a western. I’ve been a fan of westerns as long as I can remember. I spent a lot of time as a kid reading book after book about different Indian tribes, famous battles, etc. I’m also a big fan of the Clint Eastwood westerns. One day I thought to myself why not try to write a western? So I did.

Q: Can you provide us with a brief synopsis?

Wanted dead or alive after he rescues a girl from being raped, Jeb McCulloch goes on the run. She falls deeply in love with him as they flee together through mountains and desert but with hard men and fast guns on their trail they find themselves in bloody wild west shootouts with corrupt lawmen and greedy bounty hunters.

Q: How long did it take you to complete, A Bullet For Two?

The first draft was written over a period of several weeks. The storyline came fast. After that I layered it several times to bring out the character development, etc.

Q: Do you currently have an agent?

I don’t have an agent at this time but I am open to future possibilities.

Q: What did you learn about the publishing industry and publication process?

The first time was the hardest because I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

Q: What is the most frustrating thing about the industry?

Technical things like graphic quality can be very challenging. A book cover can look very different depending on the size of the display and graphic quality of the site. Kindle and other e-book editions can also look quite different than paperbacks. One image thus becomes many different images depending on a multitude of variables. Formatting can also be a challenge the first time around. How it looks on your computer and how it looks when the publisher sends it back to you can also take some getting used to.

Q: Do you like the idea of self-publishing ?

Yes, very much. The possibilities today that technology has created are better than any other time in history. Every year technology gets better and thus more and more things become possible for the independent minded writer as well as other artists. I think there’s a very important movement taking place right now and technology is what makes it possible. Not only is this good for writers, it’s also good for readers. Readers have more choices today than ever before.

Q: What marketing platforms do you currently use?

I’ve enjoyed my greatest success thus far on Writer’s Café. It’s a great site for connecting with other writers and for building a readership.

Q: As a writer, what type of platforms are most helpful with connecting to your fans?

Creating a presence on the internet is the most important thing today; far more important than doing book signings. You can connect with people from all over the world.

Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Don’t worry about form. It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, a short story, or a poem. What matters is if you communicate what you want to. Seek to create rather than imitate.

Q: What’s the best advice you have received as a writer?

A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you know your ending then all you have to figure out is how to get there.

Q: What would you like your readers to know about you?

Music is my first love. I started writing song lyrics and from there I started writing other things. I still haven’t published any of my song lyrics yet but perhaps someday I will.

Q: What upcoming projects are you currently working on?

Most of my time is devoted to working on a novel about Alaska. However, I am always working on different things at the same time. I like to work on something for a while and then set it aside and work on something else and then come back to it. I often receive ideas for another book when I am working on something else. In addition to the Alaska novel, I have written some new poetry, short stories, and have several other novels in the works as well. I also have ideas for others but I haven’t actually written any of the chapters yet.

Q: What famous quote inspires you?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein


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Posted 10 Years Ago

Wishing you a lovely Monday, R...~xoxo~:)

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Posted 10 Years Ago

Hey, thanks for the add! :D

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Posted 10 Years Ago

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Posted 10 Years Ago

I guess it turned into two months. LOL But here is my hello :) Hope all is well :)

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Posted 10 Years Ago

Thank you, Robert, for the lovely compliment.

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Posted 10 Years Ago

Thank you for the add. I look forward to come back over and reading more of your work.