Back in high school I wrote a short story that ended up getting published in the school's annual literary review. It was a rough story about an aging guitarist who continued to play despite his personal issues. When the blues club he played in burned down, he took a one way walk to a local quarry. Not the happiest ending, but the story won.
What is your writing process?
I write daily and if I get stuck I write something for fun. Since I started writing fiction seriously again in 2012 I've passed a million words. I usually start with an idea for a conflict and write until I see the ending. Then I often rewrite the beginning to make it flow better and pass it around to my editor. I've paid for editing even for stories I'm not planning to publish just to practice the most important part of writing... the editing. When I plan to publish something, I have a whole marketing plan I use to prepare the cover, book formatting, and plan for a splashy release.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read tons of stories growing up, but it wasn't until I read The Shining by Stephen King as a teenager that I realized the power of writing. You are literally letting someone inside your head to tell you a story. The writer can inspire, inform, or entertain, but they can also shape how you think of things and view the world. It's an awesome responsibility that I take very seriously. I want people to read my stories and come away with more than, "That was nice." I've been proud of what I've been able to do so far and look forward to writing more.
How do you approach cover design?
It took me awhile to figure out, but it's dead simple. The only job of the cover is to make you pick up the book. You can have the most artistic cover with deep symbolism that echoes the themes from the book, but if the customer doesn't virtually or physically pick up the book, you've failed. The key for me is to put a conflict into the cover. Ask a question in the design that the customer must read the blurb to figure out. If you write the blurb the right way, you can entice the customer to actually buy the book to solve the mystery you present.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's too hard. I love different books for different reasons and the favorites often change based on my mood and curious nature. Pulling five books or series that I've read over and over is probably the closest I can come. George Martin's Game of Thrones is right up at the top. Stephen King's The Stand and the Gunslinger series is as well. Lee Child's Jack Reacher series is another favorite, but Tom Cruise ain't Jack Reacher. Anne Rice's early Vampire Lestat books were great, but the quality dropped over time. I love some romance series like Catherine Bybee's Weekday Brides, Melinda Leigh's She Can series, and Kendra Elliot's Bone Secrets.
What do you read for pleasure?
All kinds of genre books including speculative fiction, suspense, and romance.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My phone 99% of the time, but I will switch to a tablet when I can pry one out of my kids grubby fingers.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Writing more and planning releases months in advance. The best way to sell your last book is to finish your next book.
Describe your desk
It's an IKEA BEKANT corner desk with a 24" wide-screen monitor hiding the cables. My wife bought me lovely book themed accessories like a tissue dispenser and pen holders. I've got my release calendar taped to the wall reminding me what I'm supposed to be working on and a cork board full of my kids' artwork.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Louisiana and Texas, but live in Florida now. Not too surprisingly I've got lots of characters who shoot guns, eat barbecue, and drink Shiner Bock beer.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm working on the sequel to my novel Letting Go that I released last month. It features two of the minor characters from that book chasing down a mystery that could bring a disaster to the gulf coast.
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