Conversations on the Bench by Award-Winning Author Digger Cartwright Recognized as Finalist in National Indie Excellence Awards


Orlando, FL, Miami, FL, & Myrtle Beach, SC  May 23, 2016—The office of award-winning mystery author Digger Cartwright is pleased to announce that Conversations on the Bench was a finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.  Conversations on the Bench has previously won two USA Regional Excellence Book Awards, a silver medal from Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards, and was also a finalist in the Beverly Hills Book Awards twice.


An excerpt from Conversations on the Bench can be viewed on by clicking here.

The National Indie Excellence® Awards (NIEA) was founded in 2007 by Ellen Reid to be a champion of self-publishers and small & independent presses who produce books of excellence in every aspect.  According to NIEA, books that are recognized as Finalists are in every way outstanding.  The difference between the Winner and Finalist books are often so minute that the call might have gone either way.

For additional information on the National Indie Excellence Awards, please visit


Additional information on Mr. Cartwright and his award-winning novels is available at or


About Mr. Cartwright—Digger Cartwright is the award-winning author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versailles Conspiracy, a modern day political thriller, Murder at the Ocean Forest, a traditional mystery novel set in the 1940s, The House of Dark Shadows, a psychological thriller, and The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance, a mystery set in the Old West.  Conversations on the Bench is an inspirational/motivational novel.  His books are available in hardback, paperback, and e-book format through his website, on-line booksellers and bookstores.


Mr. Cartwright is an enthusiastic supporter of local no-kill animal shelters.  He enjoys golf, participating in charity golf tournaments, and attending WWE events.  He divides his time between Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Florida.


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Twitter:   @mysterydigger


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Award Winning Mystery Novelist Digger Cartwright’s Christmas Message

Orlando, FL December 25, 2015—The office of award-winning mystery novelist Digger Cartwright has released Mr. Cartwright’s Christmas message delivered on Christmas Day at the Thinking Outside the Boxe Symposium and Champagne Summit in Orlando.


The transcript of Mr. Cartwright’s speech follows:

Thank you all, Merry Christmas and God bless everyone.  This is always a wonderful event, and I’m very honored to be here once again.  To those of you have been here in prior years and heard me speak, thank you for coming back again.  I think you’ll find my message is somewhat similar to before, but I feel that it is an important message nonetheless.  To those first timers, welcome, and I hope you find something to take away from this event.


Christmas is a special time of year, but unfortunately the spirit of Christmas and the message of Christmas are often lost in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and holiday party-going mixed with everyday life.  You’ll notice that I said ‘holiday’ shopping.  As we know, the liberal media continues to try to force the secularization of Christmas upon the American people by slowly and systematically dismantling Christmas.  ‘Merry Christmas’ and the Christmas tree are stricken from some places in favor of holiday trees and holiday wishes.  References to the meaning of Christmas are fewer and fewer and the Christmas message is blurred.  This has been a trend for the last decade and continues at an alarming pace.  The effort to make an all encompassing, general ‘holiday’ at the expense of Christmas marginalizes the Christian faith and should be seen as an affront to the Christian values upon which this nation was founded.


I celebrate Christmas, yet I know many people who don’t.  Some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Kwanzaa, and some don’t celebrate at all.  I don’t care what people celebrate.  I’ll wish just about anyone a Merry Christmas.  If they don’t like that, they can forget that I offered them good tidings.  I’d be happy to receive good Hanukkah or Kwanzaa wishes.  I’d be flattered that someone thought enough of me to offer me those good tidings.  If people don’t like my Christmas wishes, they can reject them but they don’t have the right to impose their will upon me and millions of other Christians by pressuring us to eliminate the term ‘Merry Christmas’ in exchange for emasculated, politically correct jargon.  So, let me say it once again, Merry Christmas!


We live in a time of conflict, materialism, and self absorption.  There is conflict among nations, conflict between religions and civilizations (whether anyone is willing to admit it or not), conflict between races, conflict between those who don’t respect the rule of law and those who wish to preserve it, conflict between those who have and those who don’t, conflict between political parties, and conflict within ourselves.  Not all conflict is armed conflict or violent conflict.  Much of the conflict is tension or restlessness or aggressiveness.  Without doubt, this conflict can lead to unrest, anger, resentment, and ultimately violence.


But conflict among nations, religions, or ideologies is a problem whose resolution is for another day and another time.  As individuals we cannot singlehandedly solve these conflicts.  It is rather for us to work to find peace within ourselves and with those around us.  Sometimes neither can be accomplished easily.  As individuals we must work hard to quell the conflict within ourselves which often leads to conflict with others.  We must seek to understand the nature of that conflict and find ways to overcome it.  Only if we are at peace with ourselves can we be at peace with others.  Too often we become consumed by internal strife and external drama which leads to problems in our everyday life and damages relationships with those around us.


Those with internal conflict are like crippled ships drifting aimlessly in the vast ocean.  They are lost.  They seek direction and guidance and when they can find neither they become frustrated, bitter, and angry.  They channel and vent these powerful emotions towards others.  There is an emptiness inside them that they attempt to fill by denigrating others.  They try to feel better about themselves by hurting others—sometimes physically and sometimes emotionally.  They fuel the fires of their own internal conflict by drawing others into their personal quagmires of emptiness, anger, and despair.  They are unhappy people and they hope to make others around them unhappy as well.


We live in a time of materialism.  The accumulation of material things serves as a status statement but also seeks to quench the thirst of those who have a void in life which they are seeking to fill.  They believe that this void and the underlying unhappiness that they experience can be filled with material goods.  They believe that they will be happy when they get the new cell phone or the new car or the new TV.  But the fulfillment they seek from material goods is an illusion.  They are living a lie and only fooling themselves.  When the satisfaction of the new phone quickly wears off, they are faced with the same emptiness that they had before, and they seek a new object to desire.  And thus the cycle never ends.


Retailers prey upon the wants and desires of those who seek material goods as solace for a troubled soul.  Those who are weak and torn with conflict and strife are ripe prey and willingly succumb to marketing efforts.  Yet many of these individuals also bemoan the loudest the evils of corporations.  All the while they fuel the fires with each successive purchase they make.  In the end, the want of more and more material goods fails to fill the void in their lives or end the internal or external conflict.


The satisfaction of materialism is ephemeral.  Individuals consumed with conflict and attempting to assuage those feelings with materialism would be better served to give rather than receive.  Helping others does more to calm the troubled soul than personal consumption.  The satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a difference in the lives of others lasts long beyond the satisfaction of acquiring the material good.  Charity makes tremendous strides in soothing a troubled soul.


We live in a world where there are millions of people and animals in need.  In our own nation, the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth, we have children and seniors who go to bed hungry at night and who live without secure food supplies.  In the most prosperous nation on earth, we have individuals and families who are homeless or lack the basic necessities.  We have homeless, orphaned, or abandoned animals living in shelters waiting to find a forever home.  We have seniors living at home or in facilities who have been forgotten.  All the while, many of us go about our daily lives with little consideration of those less fortunate or those in need.  We become too wrapped up in our own routines or our own lives to consider others in need or how we can make a difference.


Charity not only makes a difference in the lives of those in need but also makes a difference in the lives of those who give whether they suffer from internal or external conflict or not.  Giving is something each of us should strive to do no matter how great or how small our capacity to give.  As many of you know, I’ve never been enthusiastic about financial contributions.  Money given to a charity is often used for salaries or operating expenses.  The direct impact is not seen or felt, and it is altogether too easy to write a check to a charity and move on.  As you also know, I prefer to give what can be most useful.  Each blanket given to the homeless shelter, each can of food donated to the food bank, each bag of dog or cat food given to the animal shelter, and each book, puzzle, or toiletry given to those in nursing homes makes a direct difference in the life of the recipient.  We should each give to our own capacity.  Those of us who have been blessed with plenty should give as much as we can.  Many who are working and living paycheck to paycheck say they don’t have the discretionary income to be able to give.  I would point out that the most valuable thing you can give anyone is your time.  To those who want to give but don’t have the financial capacity to do you, volunteering at a shelter or home is a gift that is of immeasurable value to the recipients.


It truly is better to give than to receive.  Charity goes a long way for both the giver and the recipient, and the satisfaction from charity is more meaningful than the satisfaction from materialism and self satisfaction.


And finally, we live in a world where so many people, particularly the young people, are self absorbed.  They feel that the world revolves around them and that everyone should bow to their every whim.  They are spoiled and self centered. They often lack basic social skills such as manners; they don’t say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ as they think this is unnecessary since they deserve something or they’re entitled to it.  They care only about themselves and what satisfies them.  They have no concern for the feelings or needs of others.  They crave attention and adulation.  This is their mechanism for dealing with the void within.  They need to feel important and admired to be complete.  They mistakenly believe this quells the strife within, but it only serves to create a false sense of security.  When they are taken outside their circle, their illusions of a self centric universe are shattered.  They become angry and hateful.  They seek to hurt and manipulate others in an effort to make themselves the center of attention again.


They live a sad and pathetic existence.  They know nothing of sacrifice as they expect others to sacrifice for them.  They know nothing of giving as they only take.  They know nothing of being a complete and wholesome individual and a functioning member of society.  They think only of themselves and what makes them happy.  They think nothing of others.  Conflict and drama are their lives.  They have an insatiable internal conflict and they revel on external conflict.  They are empty human beings.  They know nothing of charity unless they are on the receiving end.  They know nothing of peace as they have never truly experienced it before.  They know nothing of goodwill.  These people set the world back; they don’t move it forward in any positive manner.


Peace and goodwill towards men are at the root of the meaning of Christmas, yet our society is getting away from this simple message that transcends the bounds of any religion.  By striving for peace within ourselves and amongst friends and family, we make the world a better place.  This can only be accomplished willingly and with great effort but it is a cause greater than any one individual and the effects are far reaching.  While I’m not a counselor on these matters, the solution seems pretty simple.  Lead a good life.  Be honest with yourself and with others.  Treat others with respect and decency.  Be humble and be thankful.  Give rather than receive.  Practice patience and tolerance but don’t blindly acquiesce.  Be strong but kind.  Make the most of every day that you have.  Make the most of time with family and friends.  Try to do something every day to make the world a better place—smile, laugh, listen, share.  Be good to one another.  Keep the spirit and message of Christmas burning inside you each and every day of the year.  With that, we can make our lives, the lives of those around us, and the world a better place.


Thank you again.  God bless, and Merry Christmas.



About Mr. Cartwright—Digger Cartwright is the award-winning author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versailles Conspiracy, a modern day political thriller, Murder at the Ocean Forest, a traditional mystery novel set in the 1940s, The House of Dark Shadows, a psychological thriller, The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance, a mystery set in the Old West, and Conversations on the Bench, an inspirational/motivational novel.  His books are available in hardback, paperback, and e-book format through his website,, on-line booksellers and bookstores.  The House of Dark Shadows, The Maynwarings, and Conversations on the Bench all won first place in various categories in the 2015 Regional Excellence Book Awards.  The House of Dark Shadows and Conversations on the Bench both won silver medals in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards.


Mr. Cartwright has contributed to a number of articles on a wide range of financial, strategic planning, and policy topics.  He frequently contributes articles, commentaries, and editorials focusing on current economic and political topics for the private think tank, Thinking Outside the Boxe.


Mr. Cartwright is an enthusiastic supporter of local no-kill animal shelters, the Wounded Warrior Project, and local Meals on Wheels programs.


He enjoys golf, participating in charity golf tournaments, and attending WWE events.  He divides his time between Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Florida.


Press Contact:

Executive Assistant to Mr. Cartwright



Twitter:  @mysterydigger


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Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-10

Have a great cover—There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The sad reality is that we live in a world where we all do just that each and every day. Most readers are drawn to a visually attractive and appealing cover on a book.  On a bookshelf with hundreds of other books that are your competitors or in a grid of book covers at online retailers, you need to have a cover that jumps out at people.  This is where I see most indie authors drop the ball.  They spend all their efforts in writing the book then they use a generic template to make the cover or they try to do it themselves.  This only makes your work look amateur, and there is no excuse not to try to find a good graphic designer.  With online services, you can put out a request for proposals and get a ton of bids in a matter of hours.  And you will probably be surprised at how reasonably priced custom artwork can be.


As the writer you know what the key elements are in the book.  What are some unique things that you have in the book?  Is there any symbolism in the book?  Consider these factors and how they can be incorporated into a book cover.  Then, find a good graphic designer and communicate these ideas to him (or her).  Tell them about the book, about the characters, about the setting, about the time period, and so on so that they have a general idea when they go to work designing the cover.  Put the creativity in their hands and let them present you with an idea or several ideas.  Most of them are well trained in what is visually appealing and what is not visually appealing to an audience.  Then collaborate with them to decide what you like and don’t like about the cover.  Rarely will you get the final design on the first try.  It may take several iterations until you’re satisfied.


Once you’ve put in all the time and effort to write your manuscript, don’t ruin your chances of success with a poor book cover.  Collaborate with a graphic designer to come up with something that really showcases your book and jumps off the page at a reader.  You only have a few seconds to make that first impression on a potential reader and to get them to pick up the book or click on the icon.  You may have a great novel, but once they’ve passed you by, they’re not going to come back and take a second look.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-9

Have your book edited 1 or 2 times—There’s not much worse than putting out a manuscript rife with errors. There are plenty of editors out there to read your manuscript, find typos and grammatical errors, and make suggestions on plot, style, tone, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much they can improve your work.  But even the best of editors isn’t going to catch everything, and even the best make mistakes or must make judgment calls that aren’t necessarily the best decision for the manuscript in question.  I generally have my books edited at least twice if not three times. (This is in addition to having the book read by actual readers as a test audience.)  This gives the opportunity to catch mistakes.  If your manuscript makes it through three rounds of editing by professionals, there may still be mistakes but there will be far fewer.  And I’ve found that three rounds of editing gives the editors and opportunity to come to consensus on changes over which there may be disagreements.  One editor may say use a comma.  One may say use a period and make a new sentence.  One may say use a semicolon.  I generally put them together and ask them to come to a consensus of what would be most acceptable in the publishing world as opposed to stylistic decisions.

But the editing process isn’t just about finding typos and grammatical errors. They’re going to identify inconsistencies and gaps that need to be corrected before the manuscript is published.  They’ll identify plot and character developmental issues and perhaps make recommendations on how to improve for a better finished product.  Most importantly, a good editor is going to give you impartial, honest feedback about the manuscript—constructive criticism that only makes an indie author’s work better and that helps the indie author in the future.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-8

Do your research when necessary—Taking literary or creative license is one thing, but make sure you do some research if you’re writing about something where specialized knowledge is required. If you’re writing a police mystery and an important element is the autopsy, make sure you know about real life autopsies. You don’t need to go back to school, but you do need to do your research, read about it, and get any questions you may have answered so that you can convey an understanding of the subject matter.  If you’re writing a story set during the Civil War, make sure you know the dates of the Civil War.  If you’re writing a work of fiction, you can create characters and mend circumstances to fit your needs, but you can’t alter the dates of the Civil War or the outcome (unless it’s a science fiction book).  Writers can and often do alter or tweak some historical elements to fit their needs, particularly if you’re inserting fictional characters into actual historical events.  Don’t go over the top with it.  If your story is set in a particular place that you have never visited, do your research to learn about that place then you can weave what you’ve learned into your story.  It may even change things dramatically for you and force you to change elements of the plot or change scenes, etc.

Murder at the Ocean Forest is set at the Ocean Forest Hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina back in the early 1940s.  Unfortunately, the hotel was demolished in the 1970s and there is little left about it today.  So, I had to research the hotel and find out what information was available.  I researched books and articles.  I had conversations with people who had been there.  I looked at photographs.  I did my best to recreate that place in my mind then convey that to the readers.  Of course, I did take some creative license in certain aspects of the hotel, but it didn’t involve anything egregious.  Those who remember the Ocean Forest and who have read my book said that it they felt like they were there and that it was just how they remembered it.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-7

Get a good marketing team—You might have the greatest novel in the world but if you don’t have a good marketing plan and marketing team in place no one will ever know about your great work. Unless you’re an expert in marketing and social media, you’re going to need help. That doesn’t mean you have to go get some Madison Avenue advertising consultancy to do the marketing for you.  There are plenty of advertising services available online, and social media is probably the number one vehicle used by indie authors to market their books.  Get a good social media manager and let them run with it.  If you try to do all the tweets and posts yourself, you’ll never have time for writing another book.  Plus, a social media manager knows the ins and outs; they know what works, what doesn’t, what gets people to engage and so on.


I like to experiment with marketing from time to time.  Consider getting a group of college marketing majors together for an afternoon of brainstorming.  Have them come up with some real wacky ideas.  Anything goes and nothing is too bold.  You never know what may work and turn you into an overnight success.  Take their ideas and work with the rest of your marketing team to figure out a strategy for employing some, all, or none of the ideas.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-6

Choose your style—If you want to write in short sentences that are easily understood by most readers, go for it. If you want to write at a college level, go for it. Just remember that there are consequences associated with whatever choice you make in this regard.  Not everyone wants to read at the college level, so if you’re too difficult to read you’ll limit your market of potential readers.  If you’re writing at a fifth grade level, you may lose some readers as well who find your prose too simple.


I wrote Murder at the Ocean Forest to be deliberately difficult to read with long flowing sentences and extensive descriptions.  I wanted to paint the scenes for the readers.  Some people haven’t been able to finish the book because it’s too difficult for them to read; they say they have to concentrate too hard.  Other say they love the descriptions of the Ocean Forest Hotel since it makes them feel like they are there.


Another aspect to consider is character development and how you paint the picture for the readers.  Do you want to describe the characters and settings in great detail so that the readers can visual them?  Do you want to be more generic by providing the readers a basic outline of the characters and setting and let the readers fill in between the lines in their own minds?  The answer to this may be a function of the type of novel that you’re writing.  If the book is character driven where there’s only a few characters, you may want to be very descriptive.  Same goes if the setting is the driving factor.  In The Maynwarings, there are a lot of characters, some of which are more developed than others, but the setting at the Greenbrier Ranch is also important.  The House of Dark Shadows is more of a character driven novel, since there are really only four main characters in the book…or are there?


There’s no right answer when it comes to your own style.  You need to consider who your general audience is going to be and to whom you want to cater.  Of course, you can’t please everyone, so go with what you’re most comfortable with writing.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-5

Read a lot and learn from it—One of the best ways to become a good writer is to read a lot of books, particularly those published by known authors. You’ll pick up ideas for style and how to build characters or plot or setting from authors who have been there and done that. If you write westerns, you should read Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour to get a feel for how they wrote about the Old West.  If you write detective/police novels, you could read Mickey Spillane or Ed McBain.  Michael Crichton’s books might give you insight into science fiction or medical thrillers.  That’s not to say you should take their ideas or try to recreate their work.  Far from it.  You should read their books with an eye towards learning how they develop characters or present the theme of the book.  You probably don’t want to write a science fiction book that has plot development elements of a western.  You may develop characters differently in a legal thriller than in a romance book.  You may learn how other authors build scenes and theme for your chosen genre.

Reading other authors in your genre isn’t the only reading an indie author should be doing.  Read other books and newspapers and articles about writing and authors.  Reading helps improve your grammatical skills and generally expands your vocabulary, both of which help improve your work.  If you’re writing medical thrillers, keep up with what’s going on in the field.  I’m not saying you should study to be a doctor, but you should keep up with developments in the medical fields if you’re writing about an epidemic or biological warfare.  One of my favorite weekly publications is The Economist.  It has everything from world affairs to economics to new books to science and technology and so on.  From there I might find something that I want to explore more and learn more about.  I’ve even come up with some pretty good ideas for storylines based on topics I first read about in The Economist.  Reading expands your horizons and helps you further strengthen your writing skills.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-4

Ask for constructive criticism—First off, here’s a piece of advice for indie authors: Don’t read reviews of your books. The reviews of the book aren’t for the authors; they’re for the readers.  Most of the time, the reviews aren’t even meaningful.  The reviewer has found something they like or don’t like (most often the case) and focused on that.  That doesn’t help an indie author; it only leads to hard feelings and self doubt.  It weakens your confidence in yourself.  Remember, most of the critics have never written a book; they don’t have the skills, the discipline or the interest.  They’re simply looking to criticize you in an effort to make themselves feel better about their own inadequacies.


However, every writer needs to have someone to turn to for feedback about the manuscript.  Constructive criticism only makes our work better.  A good editor will often provide constructive criticism.  Friends and family do not provide constructive criticism for fear of hurting your feelings; they tell you what they think you want to hear.  Find some people who are willing to provide you with constructive criticism.  It will only help you strengthen your work and your skills.  Constructive criticism can be about plot, flow, character development, tone, style.  But remember that you can’t have just one person to provide you with feedback.  You need two or three people.  I’ve set up a bit of a small group to review each of my manuscripts.  They come up with various critiques and then I assimilate those and decide if I want to make any changes or alterations.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but it does provide me with an opportunity to get an opinion from impartial parties.  Murder at the Ocean Forest is still one of my most divisive novels.  The focus group either loved it or hated it.  Some said the sentences were too long.  Some said it was too slow moving.  Some didn’t even want to finish it.  On the opposite side, others just loved it and couldn’t get enough of it.  They said they couldn’t put it down.  At the end of the day, I had to make a decision on what changes to make.  Today, I’m still proud of that book, and it still generates strong feelings on both sides.


Constructive criticism is something every indie author can use.  Remember, the focus group you choose is not here to be your friend or preserve your feelings.  They’re here to give you the honest truth.  Take what they have to say, assess it, and then decide what to do.

Digger’s Tips for Indie Authors-3

Don’t give up—It’s easy to get discouraged while you’re writing your book and then again while you’re marketing your book, but don’t give up! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been discouraged during the writing process. I haven’t been happy with the way the story was going or the way I was developing a character or the progress I was making.  I’ve been discouraged by the detractors and writer’s block.  I’ve been discouraged when I felt that no one appreciates the work I do.  If you are truly passionate about your writing endeavors and you believe in yourself and your talents, you have to press on.  You have to fight the personal doubts and demons when you’re a writer.  In case you haven’t noticed, indie authors are still generally looked down upon by the mainstream publishers and the mainstream media.  They don’t really want us in the marketplace; we’re inferior to their published authors.  They want the indie authors to give up; they want us to fail.  So, if you give up and if you admit defeat, you give them what they want.  But the naysayers don’t really matter.  More importantly, if you give up, you defeat yourself.  Being a successful indie author isn’t easy.  It takes hard work and discipline.  It may take years to build a following and to get noticed and to get traction.  If you’re truly committed to it, you’re in it for the long haul.  Stay the course.  To quote former President Richard Nixon:  “Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

I have fought those personal demons of doubt.  I have been ready to quit on many occasions.  After I could get nowhere with Murder at the Ocean Forest, I was discouraged.  I didn’t have an interest for a long time in The Versailles Conspiracy.  But I wasn’t going to defeat myself.  I love writing.  I knew it then, and I know it still today.  I finished The Versailles Conspiracy and moved on to The House of Dark Shadows.  It seemed like I got some personal momentum going after that and I haven’t stopped.  I told myself I was going to write because I enjoyed it.  Critics and naysayers be damned.  I don’t care if I sell any of my books.  I’m writing because I enjoy it.  If I had given up over a decade ago, I wouldn’t have some of the books that I’m most proud of and I wouldn’t have further developed and honed my writing skills along the way.