Mr. Ernest Hemingway got me cooking at a young age; his "Nick Adams" stories taught me how to do it - short & direct; keep it simple. After that, I waded through Jack London, who told it like it is; Ring Lardner for his humor; Henri Charrière, whose "Papillion" movie adaptation starred Steve McQueen; Norman Mailer's "The Executioner's Song," whose move adaptation starred a young, supremely talented Tommy Lee Jones; Jack Henry Abbott's "In the Belly of the Beast"; George MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman" series (recommended by my friend Gerrit Stricker); Gregory David Roberts' "Shantaram" (another Gerrit recommendation); Keith Richards' "Life": John Burdett's "Bangkok 8"; and more recently, anything by Vernon Howard, whose books literally saved my life. I can go on and on with this question, but I'll spare you the pain....
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing, rewriting, editing, polishing copy; plus a game of tennis with the boys at the Cordova Street courts; and playing with a neighbor's cat "Brownie" during the first of two or three daily visits.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to read and play tennis. I like to barbecue chicken and eat it with rice and hot sauce.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I usually search for something I'd like to read by topic or author. Once I've found a good author, I like to read everything he or she has done, from their beginning to now. The first time I did that was with James Michener's books. I read from his first "Tales of the South Pacific" to his last, "Recessional." To this day I am totally jealous of the man; he worked with a full office staff and researchers. He was able to take it to that level. He was the Tom Clancy of his day, to name another author I like reading.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was a two-sided, hand-drawn "newspaper" called "The Curry Chronicle." I was 4 or 5 and lived on a street called Curry. I wrote and drew boxes around my "articles" and drawings, creating an "update" of what was happening with our family. There was much more going on than I was able to publish, right? That was the first time I ever used editorial restraint. No sense in kicking a sleeping tiger....
What is your writing process?
Reporting news taught me how to write: short, sweet, and to the point. Don't use 5 words when 4 will do; things like that. For so many years my job was to sit down and write, to get an article out by deadline, that it became second-nature. It's just what I do, so I sit down and do it. After years of practice, I just sit down, and the thoughts in my head flow to the fingertips and onto the various keys of the keyboard. I sense it may be the exact same process that a musician experiences, especially when the band's together and they're ready to play. They just get up there and do it, like breathing. I don't think Keith Richards gets up and says, "Now how do I do this again?" By now, the playing is ingrained within. He makes the guitar say anything he wants to. Same with writing. It's like the old, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" Practice, practice, practice. After that, the thought of a "process" will never enter your mind. You'll just do it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was one of Mr. Hemingway's "Nick Adams" stories. He wrote about a 10-year-old boy carrying a sack lunch and a fishing pole down to the side of a river. Just before he reached the water's edge, the boy saw a rabbit laying in the grass near some bushes. The boy sensed something was wrong. He put down his sack and the pole and eased over toward the rabbit, who was panting heavily, its heart beating rapidly. The boy saw the problem - a black tick had attached itself to the belly of the rabbit. The tick was as big as a grape and was sucking the vitality and energy out of the rabbit. The boy reached over, gently pulled the engorged tick from the rabbit's belly, and tossed the tick aside. After a few moments, the rabbit regained enough strength to get up and crawl into the nearby brush. That, to me, was an amazing short story. I was there with the boy the entire time. I remember the story almost verbatim to this day, 43 years after reading it. Is that the mark of creative genius or what?
How do you approach cover design?
I send my cover-design requests over to some associates at eBookLaunch.com: http://www.ebooklaunch.com Ask for Dane; he's awesome. They have three levels of pricing: Basic ($99), Dynamic ($139), and Premium: ($279). First off, don't be cheap and automatically go with the "Basic." You've spent all this time writing your manuscript; spend an extra dollar on yourself and on your creation and get the "Dynamic." That's the one I use, and for me, it's sufficient. It will also help your ebook sell better as that's how it works with ebooks. Market research proves people don't buy ebooks with drab covers as much as they buy ebooks with better-than-average or good covers. I'm not saying "Basic" is bad; if that's all you can afford, do it. But I always try to spend a dollar more to go First Class, right? "Dynamic" lets me do that. If you've got the extra bucks to shell out, "Premium" is fine too, obviously. For what I do, I think "Dynamic" is more than sufficient.
What do you read for pleasure?
Nonfiction, autobiographies, biographies, history... I like discovering what makes a certain individual tick. I like to learn what they went through to get to where they are now, or where they were before they got to where they were, before they attained a position of societal power or prominence. For example, I think books about people and where they came from and how they go to where they are now, or where they were; I find those kinds of reads fascinating. I'm sort of an armchair sociologist; the study of human beings and human nature enthuses me to no end. I like learning about heroes and scoundrels and everything in between.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle Fire for now. I'll read a PDF file on my Mac or PC now and then....
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I link my work to as many other sites, locations, and services as I can find. There's little in life more satisfying than saving money and finding your own ways to SEO your own labor. I'm a firm believer in, "If you want it done right, do it yourself." If you don't know how to do something, discover how to do it - yourself - on your favorite search engine. We human beings are all much more creative and resourceful than we give ourselves credit.
Describe your desk
My desk is made of a beautiful burnt rosewood. I clean it once a month or so. It re-clutters itself overnight.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Be Happy NOW!" is a 7-step method to achieving optimal personal happiness. It's taken me 17 years to find personal happiness, and I'm happier and more content now than I've ever been in my life. I discovered the way to true lasting happiness through the study of the works of the world's greatest mystic masters. My latest book is the culmination of that study. It shows anyone how they personally can become blissfully happy and content, and how to share that joy with others.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Writing is what I'm best at.
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