KAHANA - There is an award-winning eBook novelist living among us.
Amazon recently announced that Gary George, a Kahana resident, was named a quarter-finalist in the competitive Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest with his thriller called "The House of Three Murders."
The annual Amazon competition commenced at midnight Feb. 10, accepting the first 10,000 novels in five categories: General Fiction, Young Adult, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Romance and Mystery and Thriller.
It is sponsored by Amazon.com, Penguin Group, Hewlett Packard, CreateSpace and BookSurge for the following purpose: to publish and promote a manuscript by an unknown or unpublished author.
"In March," George told the Lahaina News, "I was informed the book had made the first cut - taking the pool of eligible books down to 2,000. On April 14, Amazon informed me the book had made the top 100 in the mystery and thriller category, which is usually the category with the most entries.
"The next cut was on June 13," George continued, "taking the top 100 in each category down to just five novels. My novel did not make the final five."
Listed in the top 100 of the writing challenge with the first novel he "had ever written" is quite an achievement.
Publisher's Review critiqued "The House of Three Murders," describing it as a "Southwestern tale of betrayal and death... a gripping crime drama, insightful views of relationships and friendships rich characters and intriguing plot."
Community reviews range from three to five stars. David Heslop was most impressed.
"There are universals to small town life that extend even to urban neighborhoods - the shared knowledge of people living in close proximity, for example - where no one is ever really a stranger and a secret is never really a secret. But George has captured elements here that are unique to those remote, rural small towns where escape is across miles of open country rather than city blocks, where a restrained tension smolders beneath the surface, and a connection to the land surrounding you is close and undeniable."
Copies are available through Amazon at $2.99. The eBook can be read on a Kindle.
"If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app at Amazon.com for your PC laptop, notebook or smartphone," George said.
George is encouraged by his accomplishment.
"I was very pleased with the success of the book in the contest. I have since written a novella, 'Horse Hunts,' which is the second book in what will eventually be a series of seven books. I am now at work on the third, 'Desert Sanctuary,' and anticipate it will be ready for publication by fall," he said.
If the series reads anything like his bio, it will contain all the elements of a best-seller, including adventure, political intrigue, business success and romance.
"I was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, in 1943. From birth to age 12, I lived on a hillside farm in the Appalachian Mountains," George said.
"Driven by a desire to do new things," George has earned multiple degrees, including a Bachelor of Arts in English and in History and a Master of Arts Degree in Education.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in October 1966 and "separated from active service" as a first lieutenant in 1969.
"I am married to Ginny, author of 'Birdy Bird,' a children's book available on Kindle and now being prepared for publication as a print book. She writes under her maiden name, Ginny Boyd. We have four sons, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren," he said.
"Ginny is my inspiration," he added. "I have dedicated both of my books to her."
The Georges spent their family wonder years in California.
He was an English teacher; chairman of an English department; insurance agency owner; tennis coach, tennis pro and owner of Family Racket Tennis Stores of Redlands, San Bernardino and Riverside, California.
His political stature and public service record is equally impressive.
George was first elected to the Redlands (CA) City Council in 1997 and was reelected in 2001.
He served on the following committees and commissions: Southern California Association Governments Transportation Commission; Redlands Trolley Consortium; Redlands Allies, a local planning and civic organization; Downtown Redlands Business Association; Redlands Festival Committee; Redlands Charitable Resources Coalition; and Interstate 10 Corridor Committee.
Ginny and Gary moved to Maui in 2006.
"We first came to Maui in 1984," he recalled, "and always dreamed of coming here to live."
"Although I have been here for a few years now, I still don't take the beauty of the island for granted. Blue skies, blue ocean, green island - it's all still a wonder to me," the author observed.
He's not interested in jumping into the local political arena.
"I pay close attention to politics on Maui. You cannot serve eight years on a city council without being curious about what the local politicians are up to; however, I have absolutely no interest in ever running for public office again. Serving as an elected official is a time sponge," he commented.
Retirement is not in the George vocabulary either.
He is a faculty member in the English Department at the University of Hawaii-Maui College and site manager at Kahana Ridge.
"I informed Maui College that the spring semester this year would be my last semester, because I want to write full-time," he advised.
Writing a book is not a pastime; it's hard work.
"I'm so glad he is finally making time to write his novels. I'm sure that folks will find them to be very good reads," his writer-wife remarked.