Interview with Robert M. Neff

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
First, I want to thank you for your compliment. I am still growing and I hope the direction is 'up'.
My formative years were spent in Northern Minnesota, well north of Duluth. I arrived with my parents at the age of 5 and left for school at the age of 14.
The schools were well-funded due to the Iron Mines that surrounded us. The education we received was supposedly superior but I was a student getting that information from teachers, Principals, and Superintendents.
My home life was severe both in expectations and in punishments. Punishment was usually the result of not living-up to expectations (which were almost always 15 to 25 years beyond me).
I became an intelligent survivor who was physically and emotionally fit, and was crushed only with great difficulty.
I learned to think, observe, experiment, and dream, all of which contributed to my writing skills.
Are you an avid reader?
No. Not in the sense implied by the expression.
I clearly remember, back when I was 8 or 9 years old, I noticed that all books, radio programs, plays, and movies (we had no television then) were about people "doing life".
I did not shut out reading or listening but I determined to be an "avid liver".
By implication, many of the most highly recognized authors, teachers, agents, and publishers consider this approach to diminish my skills as a writer.
However, while they were learning how to turn a phrase, I was turning someone's life around. While they were enhancing the despicable actions of the town drunk, I was actively straightening-out a drug addict, keeping him in the Marine Corps, and I now marvel at his ministry in Washington.
All has not been roses. Two divorces, homelessness, being so low and down that the only positive move I could think of was to return to active duty. That would increase the number of servicemen by one (1) and that, in turn, would make America a tiny bit safer.
Though I am not "well read", I am the character written about, but, I am the only person who can write the story in 'first person'.
When did you first start writing?
Those assignments given to all students were my first introduction to writing.
Writing for the sake of writing had to be delayed until I was away from home at a boarding school.
Any writing done at home was over-examined by my parents to ensure there was no corruption of accepted family values. This was the perfect, and righteous, way to stifle both creativity and truth.
My writing with the goal of becoming 'a writer' did not start until I was no longer working a 40+ hour week. (That happened just prior to my 77th birthday.)
Then I finally had time to reflect on my life, perhaps change some boredom into excitement, and put pen to paper.
I entered a short story in an International Christian Writer's Contest , took third place, and received a check. In a way, that was somewhat similar to voting as, "That only encourages them".
Now I have finally decided what I am going to do with the 'second half' of my life:Write!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Getting-up early was originally a parental decision. One year in a military academy followed by three years at a private academy created/solidified the habit.
In 1954 I was promoted to the rank of Corporal by the Marine Corps. That meant the enforcement of up-and-at it was now my responsibility. At that time I determined to be showered, shaved, and in full uniform while getting the sleepy Marines out of their racks.
Now it is the several hours of quiet in the morning when I can think, plan, have my devotions, and write while undisturbed that get me out of bed.
It is not unusual to have words parade through my head in such a way that I get up at 2 AM and I write for several hours.
What is the story behind your first book?
Now that I have no designated destination or time requirement, I find myself reflecting more clearly on my past.
I did write several short stories about specific events/persons and they were well received, even by friends whose livelihood has been that of education and/or literature. All encouraged me to put it in a book.
The book was originally titled, "Imperflections, *) years in my rear-view mirror." Then I realized that no-one would buy a 300,000 word book by an unknown author.
After analyzing my 'rather different' life I started the book as a kid forester at age 10, then remembered the alcoholic who shared my bedroom, on to Bible Camp and Culver Summer Naval School, followed by my Plebe year at Culver Military Academy.
I was thoroughly surprised by the details and sequences that flooded my brain. I figured 31,000+ words was a good place to stop writing.
It was also time to learn how to get published.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
As I explored the requirements for traditional publishing I became both skeptical and disheartened.
I attended a great Writer's Conference where I was greatly encouraged, learned a lot, and made wonderful personal contacts with many of the "Right People". Three agents and one publisher specifically told me that, "When your book is nearly ready, and you have a smooth proposal, please send it to me." Great and encouraging news to a beginning author!
However, I find that as I soon will become one of those "Un-pronounceables/Un-spellables", an Octaginarian, (I turn 80), I have become more "antsy" than a 17 year old boy wanting his first car.
Through the traditional route, the book would get to the market in three years, three difficult years, at best.
Discovering indie publishing has restored my enthusiasm.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has taken the time and effort to both encourage and to teach authors how to self-publish without paying big bucks to, perhaps, earn nothing.
Your Styleguide is magnificent. Some of the functions you described I could not follow, but that was due to my inadequate knowledge of 'Word'. I do have friends who were more than willing to teach me and to baol me out, so to speak.
Your tips on marketing strategies, including this "Interview" are very reliable.
How do you approach cover design?
Even though I owned my own art gallery for several years, where I sold my own photography, I am not about to trust the success of my book to my own ideas of a good book cover.
I printed a copy of "Mark's List" and examined it carefully. I contracted with "Ebook Launch" and was amazes and enthralled by their work.
Examine the cover of my book, "Imperflections" to see one great cover. (While you're there why don't you buy the book? I think it's good but then I'm prejudiced.)
I highly recommend them. Go to: "Ebook Cover Design by" Tell them I recommended them.
What are you working on next?
That is a great question. My work for the moment is where to focus now.
A logical move would be to lay out the next 3 to 6 years of my life. That would include three years at Wheaton College Academy and my first three years in the Marine Corps. The foue summers between Culver and the Marine Corps would make a book on their own.
I have two unpublished books that I could fine-tune. The first is "Satan's Claws, and how he uses them."I have considered changing its focus and renaming it, "Armwrestling the Serpent".
The other book is, "Down From a Wierd Duck". (That would be me.) It is a collection of humor and thought provoking articles. Much of the humor is impossible to trace to its point of origin so I could wind up in trouble if I published it.
What do you think?
let me know at:
What experiences might we read about next?
Let me see. What could I choose from?
*Three years in USMC w/a few stories.
*Two years of civillian life.
*Four years in USAF w/a few stories.
*Seven years in various businesses.
*Thirteen years in USMC w/a few stories.
*Two divorces.
*Owning my own business.
*81/2 years living in an RV.
*What to do now?

Well, It's a start!
Published 2013-09-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Satan's Claws
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 24,810. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Theology
The Scriptures are filled with the effects on us humans by Satan's claws. My own life experiences seem to be, frequently, in direct conflict with what God would have me do. Always subtle, always seemingly insignificant, always appealing, always deadly, always regretted, and, yes, always avoidable with God' help. This book is an attempt to use God's word as an ultimate defense.
Down From A Weird duck
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 11,830. Language: English. Published: December 10, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Personal inspiration
This collection of "Memories, Mirth and Messages" is presented as 'leakage' from an old warrior's brain. It is hoped that it is both entertaining and thought provoking. From a dog in Minnesota to an axe in Arizons; From a fire in Japan to a Storm in Galilee; From painting to waiting; From a dance to a parrot in church, You will find it, and more, here. Please enjoy and share.
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 31,170. Language: English. Published: August 8, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Imperflections is Auto-biograghical in nature written as Creative non-fiction. Beginning with my turning 5 acres of forest into a fertile family garden while I was 10 and 11 years old. At age 12 I was literally raising a 35 year-old alcoholic. Summer School and my Plebe year at Culver Military Academy complete 6 years in my rear-view mirror.