- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — When he was in school, Martinsville business executive Ben Beeler disliked creative writing assignments and detested writing reports, but his father encouraged him to appreciate books.
Now, at age 45 and with 18 years of experience in business, Mr. Beeler has become an author. His first book, a 560-page novel of international intrigue, was released earlier this year.
In "Shields of Deception," Mr. Beeler pits a couple of terrorists — former Russian military operatives — against a New York City police detective in a story of deception, danger and intrigue. Add to that combination a love triangle involving the central character, and "Shields" weaves a plot rife with scandal.
Mr. Beeler's interest in the genre dates back decades.
While he was in elementary school, his father, Bill, gave him a book by Robert Ludlum. The international flair, crime and espionage of the Ludlum novel appealed to Mr. Beeler and he became an avid fan of the author.
"But when the Cold War ended, those type of books seemed to decrease," Mr. Beeler says. "I figured I could write something as good as the worst I'd read."
Even so, writing the book was more happenstance than planned, says Mr. Beeler, executive vice president at Virginia Glass Products.
"This isn't something I wanted to do for 20 years," he says. "My wife called it my midlife crisis. She said it was a lot cheaper than a red sports car."
Mr. Beeler completed the rough draft of his manuscript in 53 weeks. He started a week before his 40th birthday and finished on his 41st birthday."
Writing the book was easy, compared with Mr. Beeler's next task.
Finding an agent was the hardest thing to do, Mr. Beeler says. That took about a year.
"My agent's biggest mistake was that she thought it was better than it really was," Mr. Beeler says, noting that his agent pitched the manuscript to "the really big New York publishing houses.
"They all passed on it," he says.
One of Mr. Beeler's daughters told him about Writers Club Press, a publishing house that is affiliated with the Barnes & Noble book store franchise, Mr. Beeler says.
"They did eventually take it," he says, adding that less than six months later, the book became available.
Although Barnes & Noble stocks the book at its distribution center, it is not stocked in stores currently. Rather, it is available at on-line book stores or can be ordered directly from Barnes & Noble stores.
Mr. Beeler says he hopes it will be displayed on store shelves soon.
He has no idea of the book's sales thus far. Because it was not for sale until the last week in March 2001, Mr. Beeler's first royalty check included only eight copies.
Mr. Beeler says he didn't buy all eight copies. "But if you showed me a list [of the
purchasers]," he says, "I bet I'd know seven of the eight,"
Mr. Beeler says his wife, Page, didn't think he was serious when he first told her about wanting to write.
But as the project progressed, Mr. Beeler says, she was supportive and often helped with editing.
Their three children, Kathryn, 16, and 13-year-old twins Jennifer and Douglas, also got involved.
"They were probably the most enthusiastic of anybody that was familiar with the undertaking," he says. "They even made suggestions one or two, I used."
At times, Mr. Beeler says, his children thought he was working too hard on the book. Now that the book is published, "they think it's neat," he said.
With book No. 1 behind him, Mr. Beeler has started No. 2.
Mr. Beeler says he's written about 100 pages of a second book — which is untitled — but doesn't have much time to work on it.
"The children were younger when I wrote the first one, and they went to bed before I did," he says. "Now, I go to bed before they do. When they go off to college, maybe I'll have the opportunity to continue."
Mr. Beeler says he enjoyed writing the book.
"It was like reading a book, a good book, and being able to control the action as you read it," he says.
Because his father instilled in him an appreciation for reading, Mr. Beeler dedicated the book to him. The dedication was to have been a surprise, revealed when the book was published.
But Bill Beeler died on Thanksgiving 2000, months before the book was published and before he would learn what a profound impact he had on his son's life.
Mr. Beeler's tribute to his father reads, "To my father, who taught me the joy of reading for pleasure."

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