Actually, I still have the first story I ever wrote. It was written when I was eleven and consisted of 1 and 1/2 pages of single-spaced typewritten text. It didn't ever have a title. The story is about a person who wakes up and discovers that they have become a ghostly type of person that no one can see or hear or feel. I was very into sci-fi at the time; still am when you get right to it. That first one was god awful when I go back and look at it, but it was formative in its own way.
What is your writing process?
What works best for me is to be engaged in a repetitive task that my body can do without the mind being required. That allows it to go and just kind of free associate. Most of what I've written so far is based on poetry because I love how the poetic forms can be shaped from a prose like entity to a sparse descriptive story in and of itself. I mull things about in my mind while I am working at the task until it springs about 90% complete onto a hastily scribbled piece of paper, then I refine it and put it away for awhile. Later I take it out and read it again to see if it is clear and succinct and if it says what it needs to say in the way it needs to be said. I don't have any clear-cut writing process and I will go for ages sometimes without writing anything; then go on a frenzy of writing everything. My writing has in many ways become my history because everything that I see or experience or find out about becomes grist for the mill.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I really wish I did. My mother read to me a great deal after I was born and spent lots of time teaching me how to form words and spell them properly and use them. I actually began Kindergarten when I was four years old and was the only one in my class who could already read the posters that were all over the walls of the school. I have read so many wonderful stories over the years; but sometimes I wish I could go back and find out what the first one I read on my own was just so I could read it again.
How do you approach cover design?
The book itself speaks to me and pushes me into the right direction. An image sort of forms itself in my mind as to what would be right for this story and then I go in search of it.
What do you read for pleasure?
I will read almost anything that doesn't bite me first. I am extremely eclectic in my reading. I tend to favor, in no particular order, historical fiction, sci-fi, romance (I'm sorry but not the Harlequin type of thing, no disrespect to the brand intended), hard-science based fiction like Robin Cook and Tom Clancy, action drama such as Lee Child, some of the Steven King type of books (although I've been told that we look alike I don't care for everything he's written, although I can't deny his superlative talent. I just don't get into the gore-filled stuff. I'm more Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone than Friday the Thirteenth), sword-and-sorcery and magical stories, action-adventure-drama and almost anything else that happens to be lying around. I don't get into zombies for some reason although that is just about the only thing I really don't like. When we first met, my then future wife was surprised that I read so many 'Women's magazines' and books. I tried to explain to her that just because it is aimed at women doesn't mean it can't entertain or inform men also. Besides, if you want to begin to understand the opposite sex, read what they read to get their point of view. I do try to make an honest effort to finish any book I begin reading, although, I have to admit that with indie publishing there are some authors who do not put in the work to edit and proofread which sometimes makes their books almost impossible to read and understand. Sorry about the soapbox, but I do have some pet peeves. Still, just my personal opinion and not meant to be a slam against anybody.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I was given a Nook for Christmas a couple of years ago and I love it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the mid-west. I was born in Indiana but lived most of my life split between there, Illinois and Missouri with stints in Oklahoma and Colorado. We moved fairly frequently and I learned to be a people watcher. I also drove long-haul trucks for many years and, of course, did a stint in the Army and got to go to war in another country. I am drawn to regional differences and colloquial language and specific activity-related terms and work them into my writing, although it tends to be subtle.
When did you first start writing?
It feels as if I have always been writing. At first it was notes and messages because it was easier for me to express myself in writing than it was in person. It wasn't until much later that I gained the confidence to express myself verbally. I progressed to writing short stories, but they were invariably so bad and so wordy that they just didn't work well. I love language and vocabulary and I know I tend to be much too voluble. I became drawn to poetry because I learned how to express an idea or tell the story with just a few descriptive words rather than a deluge of verbiage. My first short story was written when I was eleven, although the notes and messages began long before that. I learned to actually write when I was three or four because my mother said I was precocious.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried going the print book route and found such a subjective mind-set prevalent that I self-published some works. As print books they died on the vine because I didn't have the money for the big marketing and none of the retail markets wanted anything self published. Finally I began self publishing eight-page booklets that I used as giveaways for my hospital ministry. Members of my church would contribute money to help with the expense of printing them. I accidently came across Smashwords after a good friend was able to get his first book e-published, and decided to try it out for myself. Now I couldn't be happier because there is a forum where self publishing is not looked down upon but actually encouraged and there are no self-righteous, only bottom dollar minded, grabbing the coattails of the latest best seller publishers to smash my efforts. I won't try jumping through the print book hoops again. I know there are some who say if it was rejected by a print publisher it just wasn't good enough, and to an extent I would agree with them; however, I am familiar with the process followed and I know how subjective it can be. How many times have we seen a best-seller that was rejected by a good many publishers before one actually took a chance on it?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy in writing is for someone to say, "It was like you got into my head and said what I was thinking but could never have put into words" after reading something I wrote. To be able to express something so that someone reading it instantly 'gets it' is just amazing.
What do your fans mean to you?
At this point I don't think I have many fans but I treasure each and every one of those who took a chance on one of my works and didn't throw it away before finishing it. Ultimately I think I write mainly for myself, because I have to write even though I do it so sporadically, but there is great joy in another person appreciating what you have to say.
What are you working on next?
You might say I am working on several things at once, but the one I am expending the most effort on right now is a book that will be titled, "Relationships: Family, Friends, Lovers and Others." As the title suggests this will be a compilation of poems that have to do with each of those aspects of our relationships. You will have to read it to find out what the 'Others' is referring to.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My grandfather used to tell me that, "Any day that you wake up is a good day because the alternative won't be." I take that to heart. I do believe in Heaven and an afterlife but I'm not ready to embrace it just yet.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read, then read some more, then read again. Seriously, I do a great deal of reading, about twenty books a week. I do have a regular job which is nothing to talk about and I have some other hobbies. I make jewelry, do woodworking, help my wife do the heavy lifting in the garden, build plastic models and create dioramas, and watch way too many movies and TV. I enjoy spending time with my wife doing whatever comes to mind, and even with the kids some of the time. I also enjoy seeking out new recipes and spending time in the kitchen unless I have kitchen duty all week because then it becomes stressful coming up with daily meals and such.
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