Interview with Larry Darter

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always loved to write but never had the time to write seriously until I retired after my twenty-some-odd years in law enforcement. I had an idea for a non-fiction book that I thought people might be interested in reading. With the time to do it finally, I wrote the first draft of my first book. I revised it until I was satisfied with it and then had the finished manuscript edited. I was planning to go the traditionally published route, but when I started looking into it I learned that it could take years before the book would be published, even assuming I managed to find a publisher interested in it within a reasonable amount of time. At my age, mid-fifties then, that just didn't make a lot of sense for me. Indie publishing was really finding its stride about that time. When I looked into it and learned I could immediately publish the book and people could start buying it and reading it, I just knew that was the way to go for me. I had some success with that first book and afterward, I really never considered jumping through all the hoops required to get a book deal with a publisher. I was happy with my results and I actually enjoy every aspect of self-publishing so I've been an Indie author ever since and have never looked back.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Had it not been for Smashwords, I'd probably never have published that first book and might not be writing today. I knew nothing about book formatting, covers, or anything else about publishing a book until I happened to read an article on the web about Smashwords. I visited the site and found all the information I needed to transform my manuscript into a professional looking eBook. Then all I had to do was upload it and Smashwords did the rest. Smashwords is where I first learned that I had the option to self-publish. There are others now, who provide services to Indie authors similar to what Smashwords does, but back then Smashwords was the only service out there. Mark Coker was the pioneer and I think the man was and still is a visionary when it comes to publishing. Since publishing my first book, using the things I first learned right here at Smashwords, I handle some of my own distribution and I also format and produce my books in print. But out of gratitude for all the publishing knowledge, I've received from them during my association with Smashwords, the company will always be a big part of my self-publishing strategy.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Easy question. The greatest joy I get from writing is knowing other people are actually reading my work and either learning something from one of my non-fiction books they feel has value, perhaps something that helps solve a problem for them or finding it enjoyable and entertaining to read one of my novels. Sure, it's great making a little extra income from writing, something I'd do even if I didn't get paid for it. But what really excites me, far more than book royalties, is reading a positive review that a reader kindly took time out from their life to write and post to tell me what they thought about one of my books.
What do your fans mean to you?
If I ever have one, I'll be sure to come back and tell you what fans mean to me. Okay, just trying to interject a little humor there. I actually do have a few fans, people that have emailed me, told me they liked one of my books and said they couldn't wait to read the next one as soon as it came out. The short answer is my fans mean the world to me. They are literally the people I write for. I enjoy writing, telling stories, but at the end of the day, I don't write for me, I write for the people who read the books I write. Seriously, if I was psychic and I knew in advance that if I wrote the next book no one would read it, I wouldn't even write it. Writing books takes just too large an investment of time that could be better spent on other activities. But if I knew instead that there was even one person who was waiting for that book and wanted to read it, I'd gladly write it just for them. That's how much my fans mean to me.
What are you working on next?
The second book in the Ben Malone Mystery Novels series, Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair, is being edited as we speak and will be released April 25, 2017. At present, I'm well into the first draft of the third book in the series, Cold Comfort. I actually started writing it before I finished Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair. It is on track to be published in November 2017. Finally, I've started outlining book 4 in the series, and will probably start seriously writing the first draft in the Fall of this year. It will be titled Foregone Conclusion and should be ready to publish in the Spring of 2018.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order, my favorite contemporary authors, the authors who I very impatiently wait to read the next book from as soon as it comes out and who I have read every single book they have written, are John Sandford, Lee Childs, Scott Pratt, and John Grisham. Scott Pratt, for those that don't know, is a fellow Indie author and one of the most fabulously talented contemporary writers I've ever read. Some of my all time favorites, authors who sadly are no longer with us, are Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, and Raymond Chandler. I've also read all the books written by those legendary authors. Parker and Chandler are probably the biggest influences on my own writing style. Finally, when it comes to the real literary heavy-weights, I'm a big fan of Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and of course J. R. R. Tolkien.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm retired from my life-long profession, but I still work part-time, mostly because I didn't work for the first couple of years after retiring and I became extremely bored. My current job also provides extra money for some of the other things I like doing when I'm not writing. I like building things. After I retired, I built my own home, the house I now live in. I literally built it, from the ground up, from the foundation to the roof. I sawed every board, hammered every nail, installed the electrical wiring and the plumbing, and finished the interior. It was something I'd always dreamed of doing and so I crossed it off the old bucket list. So, when I'm not writing or working at my part-time job, I usually have some kind of building project going on to pass the time. Finally, my favorite activity when I'm not writing is traveling. I love seeing new places and meeting new people from different parts of the world. My partner is actually from New Zealand and I get to travel about that beautiful country with her quite a lot which is something I really enjoy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I know the politically correct answer to give here is Smashwords. But that wouldn't be the truth. I do find some great eBooks here but the place I discover most of the eBooks I read are two book review clubs I belong to. I won't name them, but actually, I just wrote a post on my blog yesterday about one of them, so if anyone is curious they should go to my website and read the post. Book reviews are so important to Indie authors and getting them or not getting them literally determines whether an Indie author's book is a success or failure. This is even truer now than ever before since Amazon instituted the new draconian review policy where they actively try to find personal links between authors and those who have posted Amazon reviews for an author's book and then take down any reviews that Amazon deems have been posted by someone with even the barest personal connection to the author. Amazon is not just targeting family members and friends, but taking down reviews just because an author and reader are following each other on social media. That policy is really hurting Indie authors who are already at a huge disadvantage to their traditionally published peers. I know there was some abuse in regard to Amazon reviews that the company felt they had to address, but I think they really went to a nuclear option when that wasn't called for. And the worst of it is I constantly see lots of reviews on traditionally published books that are obviously paid reviews and that's always been more of a problem than the one Amazon was attempting to address with the new policy. Sorry for getting up on my soapbox there, but I mentioned all that for context. I feel it is vitally important to be a part of review clubs because reading Indie published books and reviewing them is one way I can help support other Indie authors. That's why review clubs are where I discover most of the eBooks I read these days and all of those eBooks have been written by fellow Indie authors.
What is your writing process?
Funny I should get this question because at the moment I'm in a bit of a flux on this very thing. I've always been what some call a "pantser," or seat-of-the-pants type of writer. I get an idea for a book plot and without any plan at all, I would sit down at the computer and just start writing, creating characters and scenes on the fly, working out the plot twists as I came to them. That process has been compared to building a house without a blueprint, something I also admit I have done. But it's worked for me, and it feels fabulously creative to approach writing that way. Still, I do understand the value of having a plan before you start writing the first draft. I know that the process I've used up until now wastes a lot of time. But, I just never had any success with trying to create an outline first, not even when writing papers in college. But just recently I read the book "How to Write a Damn Good Mystery" by James N. Frey. It's one of the best books on writing I've ever read. Frey presents a method of writing that does have some of the characteristics of outlining but doesn't feel as inflexible or rigid as other ways I've tried in the past. So I'm attempting to learn to do it Frey's way so that I have some kind of plan before I start banging away on the keyboard. I guess time will tell how much success I have with it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Sort of, but let me explain. It wasn't really the first story I ever "read," but the first stories that were ever read to me that had a profound and literally life-changing impact on me. When I was in the sixth grade, I had a teacher who used to read to my entire class for about an hour out of every school day. That year she read to us the entire Little House on the Prairie series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She also read to us the Diary of Anne Frank. That is the year that I first learned to love and treasure books. I not only became a life-long avid reader as a result of that experience but I also believe that is when I first thought about someday writing a book myself. That was literally in my mind, the most valuable thing I received from all my years of formal education, including college. I'm sure that teacher never realized that she had given me the greatest gift that I'll ever hope to receive, a love for and an appreciation of books and the written word.
How do you approach cover design?
When I published my first book, I didn't have any option other than creating my own book cover because candidly, I simply didn't have the money to pay a book cover designer to create one for me. Believe me, it was awful and it looked amateurish. I'm sure a lot of people who saw it didn't even give my book a second look because the cover was really that bad. I think I found an image on one of the free digital photo sites back then and I used Microsoft Paint to crop it and put the print on it. When I wrote the next book, I still didn't have the money for a professional cover and I believe I used the cover creator at CreateSpace to design the covers for both the eBook and print versions. It was a better cover, but still basically awful. But the funny thing is I found I actually liked trying to design and create book covers and became determined to learn more about how to do it. Eventually, I stumbled onto a guy named Derek Murphy who has some websites, one of which is CreativIndie. Derek, among other things, is a professional book cover designer who has designed covers for some authors who are literally household names. But he has a heart for Indie authors and understands that some Indie authors just don't have the money to pay someone to create a book cover for them. While he always says to pay a professional to create your book covers if you possibly can, he willingly helps those who can't pay for covers learn to design and create decent covers for their books. Over the years he has given away for free, an unbelievable amount of design advice and tools to Indie authors to help those who either want or must create their own book covers. That's been huge for me. I learned about the importance of colors, fonts, and design elements and how they all have to work together when it comes to designing book covers. Things I didn't have a clue about. Gradually as I learned more about it and practiced what I had learned, I became a lot better at making them. Honestly, I could afford to pay someone to do the covers for me now, but I actually love doing it myself, so I still design and create my own using real image editing software now. I designed both of the covers for the first two books in my new Malone Mystery Novels series, and I am actually very proud of them both. I just finished the cover for the third book and I think it is absolutely the best one yet. I also have a close friend who is a commercial graphic designer who is hugely talented and artistic. So after I do my bit, I send her my cover designs and she critques them and gives me suggestions on how to improve them. She would actually do my covers for me for free, but as I said, I just enjoy the creative process of doing them myself.
Published 2017-04-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Foregone Conclusion: A Private Investigator Series of Crime and Suspense Thrillers
Series: Malone Mystery Novels. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,650. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
Foregone Conclusion is the fourth novel in the thrilling Malone Private Investigator Series of Crime and Suspense Thrillers. If you like breathtaking action, laugh-out-loud humor, and a hint of romance, then you’ll love this edge-of-your-seat detective story.
Malone Mystery Novels Box Set: Come What May, Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair, Cold Comfort
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 290,970. Language: English. Published: May 8, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
If You Love Harry Bosch, Robert B. Parker's Spenser, Philip Marlowe, Jack Reacher—it's time you met LA private eye, Ben Malone. He's a street-wise, smart-mouthed tough guy, but with a heart of gold. Three complete novels, and over 900 pages of lightening-paced thrills, suspense, and action. 3 complete crime fiction mystery/thrillers 1 Come What May 2 Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair 3 Cold
Malone Mystery Novels Two Book Set No. 1
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 193,920. Language: American English. Published: May 1, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Ben Malone is a modern-day Los Angeles private eye in the mold of Chinatown's Jake Gittes and Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, a street-wise, smart-mouthed tough guy with a heart of gold.Two Book Set No. 1 consists of the first two books in the series, "Come What May" and "Fair Is Foul, and Foul Is Fair." These two novels have an average reader review rating of 4.8 and 4.2 stars, respectively.
Mare's Nest
Series: T. J. O'Sullivan Series. Price: Free! Words: 52,900. Language: English. Published: April 12, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
From the author of the Malone Mystery series comes a smart, sassy, sexy new P.I., T. J. O'Sullivan. Hailing originally from New Zealand, T. J. has the accent and the attitude to go with it. For her first case, T. J. visits sunny Hawaii to locate a missing person. The case turns out to be anything but routine.
Cold Comfort (Malone Mystery Novels Book 3)
Series: Malone Mystery Novels. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,290. Language: English. Published: November 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
One of Hollywood's elites has been murdered, the accused her estranged husband. The situation doesn't look good for the husband, whose appetites for booze, gambling, and extramarital sex are as outsized as his ego. To make matters worse, he is on the hook to his bookie for a quarter million bucks, and with next to no alibi, multi-million reasons to kill his wealthy wife.
Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair
Series: Malone Mystery Novels. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,630. Language: American English. Published: April 25, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A drop-dead gorgeous blonde socialite, with a penchant for seduction and with secrets to keep, pays a visit to LA private eye and ex-L.A.P.D. detective Ben Malone. A maverick, Malone is known for playing it fast and loose with the rules and for having a weakness for beautiful, sultry women. Murder and a ruthless mobster get thrown into the mix for good measure. What could possibly go wrong?
Budgeting Step by Step
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 12,120. Language: English. Published: April 22, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance / budgeting, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance / money management
A step-by-step guide to creating a budget that works for you.
Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck: The Six Secrets to Building Wealth
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,900. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance / money management
Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck: The Six Secrets to Building Wealth, is common sense guide to escaping the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and building real wealth. Rather than just another Band-Aid approach, the six secrets are powerful financial precepts that strike at the root causes of the living paycheck to paycheck cycle and teach people how to build real wealth and financial security.
Come What May
Series: Malone Mystery Novels. Price: Free! Words: 97,170. Language: English. Published: March 14, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
This American detective story introduces Malone, a tough and street-smart Los Angeles private eye who takes on a 25-year-old unsolved murder case. His client, a wealthy aging movie mogul wants the killer of his only daughter brought to justice. As Malone digs into the past, the tension mounts. Powerful people on both sides of the law are determined to keep the truth buried along with the victim.
A Time Based First Marathon Training Plan
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 6,340. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Exercise
A Time based First Marathon Training Plan offers beginners an alternative training approach to the more common and frequently complicated miles-based marathon training programs available today. At the heart of the book is a simple but effective 16-week training plan where scheduled runs are given in minutes of running instead of requirements to log a given number of miles.
The Highbenders
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 29,170. Language: English. Published: May 12, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Western
Mitch Blaine, a bitter man with a reputation as a gunslinger is on the run from his past. Just when things seem to be settling down and making a turn for the better, the reason for Mitch's bitterness re-enters his life in the form of a former lover. He finds himself squarely on the horns of an emotional and ethical dilemma, and in the gun sights of an outlaw gang all at the same time.
American Nudist Culture
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 11,760. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Sociology
An objective, straightforward explanation of what American nudist culture is really about. Whether a person is just curious about what actually goes on inside nudist clubs and resorts or someone thinking about trying Nudism that needs more information before taking the plunge, the book answers many common questions and dispels many of the myths surrounding the nudist lifestyle.