This is a tough one! I'm not one to limit my favorites in any particular order . . . so here are five in no particular order.
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell (Bill Moyers collaborator). I think this book is mandatory for any storyteller. The Hero's journey is an important aspect of story telling and probably one of the oldest themes on the planet.
The Art of War, Sun TZU. I use these perspectives and philosophies in all aspects of my life. If you think this book is just about war and tools to use in life, you may be missing out!
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield. This book helped me step through my resistance to being a creative, and specifically helped me sit down, shut up, and start writing. It is a quick read and a great book to devour more than once.
The Killing Zone, My Life in the Vietnam War. I read this book as a teenager, before joining the Marines. I read this book and several others written by veterans returning from war; some were written as non-fiction, and others at fiction. I know now that there is fact mixed in with fiction at times in order to tell a story, I grasped a lot from reading theses books, because I wanted to gain the mindset before joining up. At 17 I joined the marines, becoming a four generation military man.
Stephen King: The Talisman, The Dark Tower Series, The Bachman Books. . .the list goes on. I thrived on his heroes journeys and the extraordinary situations he puts ordinary people through. The thing I love most about his writing, is spending a lot of time in his characters brains.
How do you approach cover design?
Professionally! I am not a cover designer or a designer period, and I believe a good entrepreneur has to know their limitations. I utilized Wisdom House Books for the cover designs on the first two books in The Tripper Series. Trip Walk has been released and the cover is available to peruse. Kangal, book two, its cover will be available for viewing by the public eye by August 2015. Ted at Wisdom House Books, developed the design after several conversations and looking through the manuscript. He had a great grasp of the theme, look and branding I was intending for the series.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I am still old school. I prefer having a book in my hands! I like to have a scrap piece of paper or a renewal slip from a magazine or anything abandoned and laying around that will work, stuck into the pages. I love tracking progress at a glance and being able to scan ahead to see the next break or chapter end, without getting lost.
According to The Tripper Series, the paper wars are coming, so I will have to adapt at some point. In the meantime, I do preview or beta read for others, using pdf or free e-readers if I can't get my hands on a paper version.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up everywhere. This is a question of dread for military brats! We moved every 1-3 years, and expecting me to call the place I was born home. Just isn't going to cut it.
I grew up in Alaska, New York, Michigan, England, South Carolina, North Carolina, and a little stint in California as well.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am still a rookie in this and am open to suggestions from others!
Describe your desk
I created my writing desk after waking up in the middle of the night, post dream. It literally came to be in a dream. The wife and I up-cycle furniture, scrap wood etc. In the dream I put together a bunch of the scrap wood and two big glass wooden doors, to make a new writing desk. It is perfect! I get the separation from the "real world" that I need, without feeling closed in. It came out great if I do say so myself. You can see pictures of it on my website: cmhalstead.com
When did you first start writing?
Last year, 2014. I did a little, very little writing in high school, and then didn't allow it again until last year. It is as simple as that. I conformed to the voices saying "you can't make a living at it" or "get a job and support the family" or many others.
Now I am smarter and know that wearing a suit that fits, is more conducive to a long, happy life, than pretending to be somebody I am not.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am currently working on my third book. It is one of the three I roughed out last year. It is a cathartic one for me and is full of my stories and the stories of many veterans around the world. The long journey home after the trials and tribulations of military service.
It is amazing how men and woman trained to be invincible and to overcome and adapt to any situations, have a hard time returning to society without shame, guild, fear, and any other BS emotion keeping veterans from returning ALL the way home. It is my hope that this work of military fiction helps some to face their mental demons and return home.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I want to retain my publishing rights. To determine when and if to keep publishing a book, or pull it off the shelf. To release when and if needed, and to keep movie rights until I feel the need to sell them (and if). Basically to keep publishing and movie rights until I have a large enough following to have some pull in negotiations.
I would be amiss if I didn't mention my strong desire to be an entrepreneur as well. I like determining my schedule, when and if I do an appearance, and how rampant of a writer and book releaser I want to be (publish 2-3 books a year, instead of one!) I have worked for enough entrepreneurs in my life to know that it is what life is all about (as far as the work day goes). My favorite definition of an entrepreneur is an individual that works 80 hours a week, in order to not work 40.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The quality of my life. Those I share it with, my awesome son who is 9 going on 30, my wife and the beautiful place we chose to call home. It is easy to get out of bed when I look forward to all parts of my day and week. Specially Mondays! Monday is the first day of the week I chose to write (I write 5 days, 4 hours sessions).
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Outdoors hiking and exploring, reading fun books, putting my time in on social media. Cigars and coffee are my biggest vices, I only have two vices left, so I make the most of them. Grilling on the back deck, smoking a cigar and watching the sunset is the best way to spend the end of that day's light.
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