Saturday, July 28, 2012

Writers4Higher features Robert W. McKnight

Welcome to Writers4Higher

The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.

This issue, Writers4Higher features
Robert W. McKnight

Hi Senator McKnight. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!

1. Tell Me About Yourself. Your Book(s), Your Life, Your Inspiration.

I am a 68 year old retired former businessman and politician. When retiring a couple of years ago, my wife, Susan and I discussed how to plan our next phase of life. We agreed that we wanted to stay closely together, active involved in causes and issues in which we believed, and most all, dedicated to our two wonderful children and six outstanding grandchildren. I decided my initial professional focus would be politics and business consulting, but not lobbying. Without laying out a "for hire" sign, I thought that I would start by building both an external identity and portfolio to demonstrate my acumen.

Although I had no experience at professional writing, I really thought I had to put down on paper my political and business experience in the form of a memoir, and did so with the help of a wonderful publisher and mentor, Dr. Bill Rogers of Sentry Press in Tallahassee. With the additional help of experienced editor Caroline Claiborne, The Golden Years...The Florida Legislature. Reflections on Campaigns and Public Service, was launched in November of 2007. Now in its second printing, The Golden Years has enjoyed over 30 print, television and radio reviews across the country, and won nomination for national literary awards from Fore Word Magazine and the Eric Hoffer Award. Perhaps most significant, it is now under contract to be made into a documentary by public television.

With that book laying a small identity footprint, I proposed another to be co-written with my good friend and veteran southern novelist, Rhett DeVane about Florida politics--but this time, fiction. Rhett, who had counseled me on Golden Years, was receptive, but pointed out her general disdain for politics, at least in its' traditional sense. So we sat and agreed on roles and responsibilities, and then charged off for the better part of 2008 writing the 400 page political thriller, Accidental Ambition. Upon release, we were thrilled with the number, quality, and breadth of book reviews, many of which are available today at We were advised that Accidental Ambition received the 2010 Premier Book Award runner-up for outstanding political thriller. Based upon advice from a number of experienced novelists, we are now circulating the book for review as a screenplay or movie. We know the chances are remote, but Rhett and I are certainly enjoying the ride.

One of the book reviews mentioned above was by ABC TV News/WTXL 27 HD in Tallahassee. The station management followed up the interview with an invitation to do regular, weekly political commentary, and we are now completing our 3rd year with the station, discussing a more expanded role in the future.

So we are well on our way to satisfying our goal of providing political and business consulting. One of my business clients is the prestigious Plastics Environmental Council, based in Atlanta, providing technical support for plastic producers to accelerate the biodegradation of their products. We have a full schedule of presentations around Florida on politics, combined with signings of the sale of my two books. I also market to associations intellectual property that I copyrighted a number of years ago, connecting to my business consulting goal.
As far as my inspiration, it remains as it has been for over 40 years, my family--Susan, Michelle (Von, Riley, Bailey, Andrew, and Noelle) and Bob (Heather, Miles and Norah Rose); and my brother, Jim.

2. Where Do You See Your Writing Taking You?

Although I continue to knock around both fiction and non-fiction ideas for writing, I sense that most of my near term writing will be of the Opinion-Editorial variety, which seems to be of the most interest among students and professionals of politics. I mentioned a possible expansion of my television commentary program, that could very well require additional writing as a part of the expansion. If the Accidental Ambition screenplay materializes, it will definitely require additional writing, probably by both Rhett and me.

3. How Do You Use Your Talent to Help Others?

I am fervent that all of us get more involved in our government to improve it. At the end of each of my television segments, my tag line is, "This is our government...let's make it work." I am fortunate to have the experience of serving in government at a very high level, and I think I know of the “good and the bad” of most political activities. I am not naive nor Pollyannaish, but feel that public service can be a high calling, carried out with integrity. I had the privilege of serving with such icons as Governors Reuben Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles, and feel their examples can be an inspiration to all seeking and serving in public service today.

Would you like to find Senator McKnight?

Check out the links to this talented author:

ABC TV News/WTXL 27 HD Video Segments (middle of home page): Senator McKnight's segments on ABC TV news/WTXL

Thank you, Senator McKnight! On a personal note, I enjoyed working with Bob on Accidental Ambition. He has a way of making the world of politics come alive.

 Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

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