Interview with J.M. Hardin

Published 2013-11-19.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Sometimes I look for books by authors I already know and enjoy, but sometimes I just look at the shelves and see if anything catches my attention. For ebooks I will go through the new releases on Smashwords' main page and look to see if something looks interesting. I've found a number of authors that way and I really hate that my laptop died because it's made reading ebooks almost impossible.
What do you read for pleasure?
Generally I'll read mysteries but it mostly depends on what I want to read. I have a few authors that I'll go through and read everything they write but beyond that it depends on what I'm in the mood for.
Who are your favorite authors?
Dean Koontz, Lilian Jackson Braun, Tom Clancy, Lee Child and Robert Crais. I discovered the last two when books from them showed up on the bookshelf at the shelter where I'm staying and they've both found a lifetime fan.

On Smashwords two of my favorite authors are Mark Coker (of course) and Tess Mackenzie. I really love how Tess writes.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't have an e-reader but I love reading ebooks on my laptop. I use the Calbre software to manage my ebook library and it's really easy to use, plus it's got a nice suggestion feature that will pick an ebook for me if I'm not looking to read something specific.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
As far as I can remember my very first story is "He's With the Band." I wrote it when I was in my early forties and as far as I can tell I didn't write anything earlier, not even in high school.
What is your writing process?
I generally just sit at my laptop, or for smaller things a notebook or legal pad, and get started writing. I don't generally make an outline or anything, I usually just start writing the story as it comes to me. I do make notes on who the characters are to help me keep from duplicating anyone. I'll also make rough notes as to what happens in each chapter, but generally I just go with the flow as it comes to me.

The only exception to that is when I know I'll need to add more to a scene but I don't want to stop writing to do research on a particular subject that just came up so I'll add a comment in brackets right in the text in LibreOffice and then format the bracketed comments bold and red to help me find them later. I'll also add a sticky comment to help me find them even more easily, and then I'll get back to what I was writing. and just go back and replace the comment later on.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've read for most of my life and a few times I thought of maybe trying to write something myself. I've written songs for years but I had never written fiction so a decade ago I decided I wanted to try and write something. I wrote "He's With the Band" but didn't know what to do with it so it went in my bottom drawer as I started working on a romance novel. I stopped partway through and want to get back to it one of these days.

Earlier this year I saw a keynote address that Amanda Palmer gave about creative people needing to simply create their art and not let worries about how good it would be or how easily it would be published keep them from creating. It gave me a big push to get back to writing and I had a song or two that wouldn't let me not write them but I don't have a piano anymore so it's pretty impossible for me to write music anymore. I remembered my short story and it turned out I had a copy on a CD-ROM I had burned years ago so I started looking at what I'd need to do to get it out to readers. I ended up discovering Smashwords and was amazed at how easy it is to self publish ebooks now.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love creating things and I just about always have. Being able to take something in my mind and putting it in a form for others to enjoy is one of the best things I know of. Finding out that people like what I've written is the fricing on the cake.
What do your fans mean to you?
Writing without people who want to read what I've written makes writing pretty much useless. I've written a lot of songs that have never even had a demo recorded and one of the reasons I stopped writing songs is because it felt like composing was an exercise in futility.

Knowing people like my writing makes me want to write more, and it makes me want to be a better writer for them. It makes me want to read the bad reviews because they tell me that there are people out there that may want to read my next story and it pushes me to try to make that next story even better than the last one. There are way too many stories out there for readers to choose from and readers can always pick someone else's story over mine.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Without Smashwords I never would have been able to publish an ebook. I still need to do a lot of work to get stories ready to be read but Smashwords makes it almost too easy to get my ebooks into the hands of readers. Without them I'd be writing short little things for a blog and not even trying anything longer because I wouldn't have realized I could send them out into the world at all.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover or "He's With the Band" was pretty easy. Having been a live sound guy I wanted to find a nice Creative Commons image of either a mixing board or a live performance. When I found that image I used for the cover it was perfect because it was available for commercial use and it was already formatted for the size I needed it to be.

"Somewhere... and More" was a little harder to do. I knew I wanted a piano with sheet music on it but I couldn't find anything I really liked. In the end I found an image of a sheet of blank staff paper like I had used when I was studying classical composition and used it as a source image. I went ahead and created the individual staves in Gimp and then grabbed the Inkpen font to add the text.

Generally speaking I look for an image that goes with the subject of the story and then find a nice font to use for the title and my name. When my mystery gets closer to being finished I'll contact a friend of mine that's an artist and see if she wants to try and create a cover for the book.
What are you working on next?
I started on a mystery back in August and it was coming along pretty nicely when my laptop died. It's set in Boston like "He's With the Band" but it's a very different story. It isn't a Christian story, and it's pretty different from most of what has been written and set in Boston. I'm trying to find a way to get the file off my old hard drive so I can get back to work on it. I really want to see what happens next in the story.

Once it gets done I may go back to the romance I started a decade ago and see if I can get it finished.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.