I started writing as young as ten (1982), handwriting a few Halloween stories and stuff on legal pads while still in grade school. The first story I remember writing was a short called "Nighttime Noodles" about a bag of maccarroni that comes to life late one night and wreaks havoc on a small town. The pasta steals a truck, robs a bank, and returns to the kitchen just in time to be the main course of a big dinner the next day (I was ten... So, yeah). I even illustrated it and the stapled it all together, making a book out of it like a lot of kids do.
I was 13 when I got my first typewriter and that's when I really got serious about writing. I used to play Dungeons & Dragons with some friends and would go home and write about my adventures in the game.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I've published 3 books, all horror. The most recent one was an adaptation of one of my screenplays, a horror/western called The Dead Reckoning, about a gang of outlaws in 1880's Louisiana who are hunted and scalped one by one by an army of Indians who return from the dead after the outlaws murder them and rob their village. (A far cry from mischievous macaroni.) I was supposed to produce the movie in 2012, but so-called "producer" turned out to be full of it and had no access to the money she promised. So, I decided to turn the script into a book to keep the idea alive.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Being Indie isn't new to me, I've been an indie filmmaker since 2003, so this was the next logical step for me as an artist. The traditional publishers have all of the resources necessary to make a writer successful far beyond most indie efforts, but I rather enjoy the freedom of being an indie artist. I call all the shots, I make my own deadlines, create all of my ad material, design all of my own covers, and keep all my profits. But I am shopping my work around and if traditional pubbing happens, I'll probably take it for a test drive.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I inherited the gift of storytelling from my grandfather and I love thrilling my readers with my own adventures and stories. However, the greatest joy I get out of being a writer is when I'm able to share my knowledge and experience with aspiring writers. I've successfully motivated several writers to finish and publish their first books and I'm currently continuing that trend with several more writers, including a childhood friend. He and I Admin a new group together on Facebook, called The Writer's Block, that is dedicated to encouraging and motivating writers or all skill levels. I also started a new blog, called He Said... She said, where I interview successfully published writers exclusively for our group in an effort to encourage and motivate our members.
What is you writing method?
I'll start with a 5-hour energy shot. Then, I write best when I'm jamming to 70's, 80's and early 90's rock, pop and R&B. Silence doesn't work me, it's the driving beat of the music that puts me in a zone and makes my fingers dance across the keyboard. Unless, of course, it's a tune I can't help but drum on my desk to; in that case, it's break time until the next song. I also like to much on David's sunflower seeds, Red Vines red licorice. And I usually have bottled water with a packet of Crush strawberry flavor mix.
I spend about half of my writing time at a 24 hour diner, like Steak n Shake, where I have a usual table and can sit with headphones on, pounding out my stories while snacking on french fries. I feel like I'm actually doing something when I can write somewhere other than my office at home. A lot of times, doing this leads to book sales to the wait staff or their customers.
Also, if it's a book that I'm working on, then I'll consult my plot notes pretty often to keep myself on track. I research, research, research everything. It's not unusual for me to jump from my writing program to Google to type in a keyword or two and find what I'm looking for.
Describe your desk
I've turned my dining room into my writing office. My desk sits in a corner away from any windows or distractions facing a wall of posters advertising my first 3 books (encouragement and motivation). It's just a small, student's writing desk like the kind you buy at Walmart. I got away from large desks long ago. The more desk space I have, the more clutter I accumulate. I just want my laptop, wireless keyboard and mouse, and my thumb drives on my desk - one drive for each book, including its covers and any collected research. That's it. My writing snacks and drinks are on a small TV tray next to it.
What are you working on next?
I'm stepping away from horror for a while and writing a testosterone-fueled action adventure series called Max Remington: Nazi Hunter.
SERIES PREMISE: In the year 2024, a newly elected American President ushered in a Nazi regime and the nation was cast into a disturbingly dark, gritty and violent era. Secret Service agent Max Remington was marked for death when he refused to continue working for the new President, a man whose life he saved from a would-be assassin while on the campaign trail. He survives an attempt on his life, his family isn't so lucky.
Now, eight years later, Max is a wanted man as he, along with a network of underground freedom fighters, wages a bloody war against the nation's biggest domestic threat since 1776.
Do you write for yourself or for others?
I love my readers. I write for THEM! I have many fans that look forward to seeing me at book events and conventions to find out what I'm doing next or to grab my latest books. And I'm always happy to give away a copy or two to new fans. To show my appreciation, some of them even make into my stories.
When I ask other writers this question, I usually hear: "I write for me", or something to that effect. I think that's fine, but it's as if they're just trying to sound like some kind of purist or "true artist". To me, it comes across as fake, especially if you're publishing and selling your writing. If you're writing for yourself, you should keep it to yourself.
Are there any authors who may have had an influence on you?
When I was a teen in the 80's, I read a lot of men's adventure series like Mack Bolan (Don Pendleton and the staff writers of Gold Eagle Books) and The Rat Bastards (Len Levinson), etc., as well as some of the classics from the pulp era. When it comes to horror, Henry Kuttner was the one who really made me decide to write horror after I read a story he published in 1932 called "The Graveyard Rats".
I'm a big fan of the old pulps. The action adventures, horror, and hardboiled stories are just as awesome and exciting to read today as I'm sure they were then. In fact, I enjoy them more than today's writers. My writing style is heavily influenced by those stories and their writers.
How do you approach cover design?
I design all my own covers. I try to create an image that conveys the title or has something to do with content of the book.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly pulps and men's action adventure series. I used to read them for pleasure, but since I've become a published writer, I usually reading them now for research. I'm studying how other writers in my genre tell their stories and compare my style to theirs. I'm looking for similarities so I can figure out how to set my style and voice apart from theirs.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Conventions and book events are great, I usually sell out. At a convention, I don't spend a lot of time behind my booth. I'd rather stand in front of it and meet with the passersby, putting my books in their hands and telling them what they're about. People appreciate the interaction and when you put a book in someone's hand, there's only about a 20% chance that they're not gonna buy it.
I also talk about my books every chance I get to anyone I'm in line with at the grocery store or when I'm just out enjoying the day. I wash my clothes at a local laundromat, and I post ads on the bulletin board or talk to people about them. I offer free print copies ($5 value) to people if they download one of my other .99 cent ebooks in front of me.
I design my own marketing material such as business card, post card ads, fliers, web ads, etc. I use a couple of very affordable promo companies who blast over a half million readers with Twitter posts and emails.
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