When I was in high school, an English teacher assigned us to write about something current in our lives. Procrastinating as I did, I waited until the morning the story was due, and on the drive in to school, saw a winter field covered with broom sedge, right next to a cold pond with ducks. So I wrote about that, jotting my outline, and then fleshing it out literally sitting in the class the assignment was due in.
He got it published in a national teachers' magazine. I was surprised, to say the least. But he was a great teacher and had my respect long before that event. It was nice to know that he felt that I had a good story to tell.
What is your writing process?
Ideate, ideate, ideate, procrastinate, write. When I finally get around to starting things, I like to finish them, too. So I'll put off writing until all of the nitnoid things are out of the way, then sit and bang out an entire manuscript.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was a big fan of science fiction when I was a kid, so anything by the "Big 3" masters - Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov - made me happy. I loved the notion of traveling the cosmos and would fantasize about it all the time. Plus, growing up just 40 miles from Cape Canaveral in the 1960s, we could see space launches from our yard and from my school. It was easy to imagine traveling in space and science fiction was my ticket to ride.
How do you approach cover design?
I am a photographer as well as writer, so I have photos that I've taken myself which I then digitally alter and use. My design rule is simplicity over clutter, elegance over busy-ness. I think that simple is eye-catching.
What are your favorite books, and why?
In 1979, I bought a book at the Fort Bliss, Texas, Officers Club bookstore, on a hurried lunch break between classes, read it, and loved it. When I finished it, I kept thinking, "There ought to be more to this story". Well, there was. It was 'The Two Towers', the second book of JRR Tolkien's masterwork trilogy, 'The Lord of the Rings'. In fact, it said so, right on the cover. Color me silly. But, I tracked down 'The Fellowship of the Ring' and 'The Return of the King' and fell madly, deeply in love with Tolkien, going on to 'The Silmarillion' and other works. On a movie note, I was scared that it would be turned into a schlocky movie, but was moved to tears by Peter Jackson's faithful reproduction of Tolkien's imaginarium in his films. Praise Narnia! ;)
While I do have a keen interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy stretching back to childhood, I can be smitten with any book well written.
What do you read for pleasure?
Read as ye have written. My guilty pleasure is erotica. ;)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't have a favorite, per se. I have a Kindle Fire HD that I love, but I also have a Nook that I'll smack your hand for touching. (Just kidding!) I've had Kindles, I have had iPads (2), a Galaxy Note, Nexuses (Nexi?)(2), Galaxy S IV & V. For simple reading and more, a dedicated e-reader is hard to beat, but if you need a color screen, as I prefer, there are so many good options that it's like asking which flavor of ice cream is best: It's up to the consumer.
If you sit and read for hours, invest in a good e-reader, though. Your eyes will thank you.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm brand new to Smashwords - doing what I do best: Starting at Z and working back to A - but from what I've heard and read, this is where I should have started. Social media has been a champion, too.
This is an area, as a brand new author, that I am more student than teacher, so I'm all ears.
No, seriously; if I could flap them I could fly. #dumbo
Describe your desk
Easy. Take a pile of stuff you can buy at a yard sale, none of which is even remotely related to what you're doing, dump it over your desk, and Voila!
The good thing is that, since none of it is related to what you're doing, it's not distracting. The bad thing is that, since none of it is related to what you're doing, it's distracting.
It's one of those.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
As I said before, I grew up 40 miles away from Cape Canaveral. West of it, not east. That direction is a bit TOO "waterfront", if you catch my drift.
So, for me, science fiction was in the air, as were the rockets we regularly watched claw their way into the skies atop fingers of smoke and flame.
Growing up there, I imagine I was hardly alone in my genre lust.
When did you first start writing?
Ninth grade. Before that, I jotted short things down. My maternal grandmother encouraged storytelling, and would drag things out of me; long letters being the best. But in Ninth Grade, I had an English teacher who encouraged me. He had a story I wrote published in a national teachers' journal. That was the beginning, but it was decades before I picked it up again. Life got in the way.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's a story from a time when I lived in Portland, Oregon. I lived in the apartment the story is set in, which is how I know it so intimately. No one character in the book is based on any one person. They're amalgamations of people I knew, including myself. So it's 10% autobiographical, and 90% inspiration.
Portland's unofficial motto is 'Keep Portland Weird', and the story seemed better set there than in of the other places I've lived. Portland is said to have more adult shops (book stores, video stores, etc) than any other US city. I think people in Portland are more sexually liberated than in any other city of its size, and even some bigger than it is.
So the story isn't just about the human characters, it's also about Portland, a character unto itself.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Well, my friends are always telling me that I'm "full of it", and I'm SURE they mean books, so...
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Too early to tell, but everyone says this is the place to be. I'm literally in my first 24 hours on here, so I don't know yet, but I'm thrilled to be here.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting this stuff out of my head. :)
I like sharing stories, and I like it even more when people like hearing or reading them. Making people happy is a joy for me, so if they enjoy my writing, then I'm happy, too.
What do your fans mean to you?
FAN. So far, I have only one, but he's been with me all my life.
What are you working on next?
I have to recast a political satire I wrote a few years ago. The characters in today's politics aren't the same as those 4 years ago, so...update!
Who are your favorite authors?
Tolkien, Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Dan Brown, Anne Rice, JK Rowling, Stephen R Donaldson, Janisse Ray, James Michener, James Clavell, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Robbins, Hunter S Thompson, Dr Michio Kaku, for my short list.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Get OUT of bed?? What heresy is this?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have rescue animals. I have 2 GINORMOUS pet pigs; Shadow is a neutered salt-n-pepper-haired male, about 1000 pounds. He's blind in his right eye and can't hear well on the right side. He has 4" razor-sharp, needle-tipped tusks....and he's a great big teddy bear. He loves attention, loves to sleep, loves to eat, and loves his Daddy. He sleeps in the barn in a big bed of hay and blankets.
Spig is his soul sister, 700 pounds, curly, wiry red hair and a temperament to match (she's a sweetheart!). She's Daddy's girl and the back door alarm; she sleeps on the back porch, also in a big bed of hay and blankets. They're both spoiled...as they should be. :)
Sparkie is my mixed-breed dog. He found me when he wandered up as a puppy. He was scared, scarred, flea-covered, mangy, and starved to the point of emaciation. It took 3 days just to get him to come inside the fence, and another week to catch him to get the fleas off. Now, finally, he's having his puppyhood at 5-years-old, loves to play Stick (It's like 'Fetch', but wherein I throw the stick, he gets it, chews it up, and I pick up the pieces), and is Shadow's best friend. If you had a death wish, all you'd need to do is to let Shadow hear you make Sparkie yelp, and you would see a lumbering thousand-pound pig who usually moves around on his front knees (partly because of arthritis, but also because he's so tall he can't root while standing up) go to cheetah mode; he can outrun a human and don't forget that he has 4-inch razor-sharp, needle-tipped tusks and weighs 1000 pounds. And, a pig his size can take your hand off in ONE bite! Fact.
When it's cold, Sparkie sleeps with Shadow, who's like a huge hot-water bottle.
Important safety tip while visiting: Don't piss off the dog.
And there's Springer. He's my MinPin, blind from birth. I got him from the same people who had Spig. He's the peacemaker, everyone's friend (once you come in the gate), and is perpetually puppylike. He doesn't know that he's blind and most people don't realize it either. He navigates with uncanny accuracy.
I call the dogs Cow and Chicken (Sparkie and Springer, respectively). I don't know why, but it amuses me. I cluck at Chicken and moo at Cow, and they look at me like, "That boy ain't right". Which is more true than they know.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Social media is my friend. I have a collection of equally-strange people who have mutually curated each other and their recommendations are sooooo good.
Write your own question here! OK...hmmm...If you could spend time with any famous dead person, who would it be?
Hands down, it would be Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). He was brilliant, had an acerbic wit, and is as relevant today as he was when he was alive.
That would be the entirety of my bucket list if it were possible. :)
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