Interview with Mike Cyra

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My older brothers made me read a story when I was in second or third grade, about how when Nuns become Nuns, they had to have their boobs chopped off. This horrified me. All my teachers were Nuns.

The more I thought about this, the more it started to make sense. None of the Nuns I ever saw looked like they had boobs. It also explained why they had such short tempers and smacked little boys around all the time.
If someone chopped my boobs off, I'd be an angry little penguin too; and I'd smack the hell out of little boys...just because.

I spent the next two days at school staring at their habits, you know, where their boobs should be. My brothers were right, none of them had any boobs.
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I walked up to Sister Mary Elizabeth Francis Cassius Clay (that's not her real name) and asked,"Sister?"
"What is it Michael?"
"Did it hurt?"
"Did what hurt?"
"You know, Sister, when you started being a Nun...chop, chop...didn't it hurt?
"What are you talking about Michael?"
"You know, when you became a Nun and they chopped your boobs off..."

I've never been hit in the head so quickly, so many times and for so long, in my entire life.

What impact did it have on me?

It taught me that truth is stranger than fiction, and sometimes it hurts more.
Think before you speak.
Never underestimate how fast a 70-year-old Nun can move.
Don't believe everything you read.
Keep your friends close and keep your older brothers closer.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords and Mark Coker were instrumental in the success of Emergency Laughter and the 25,000 plus copies I've sold to date.
Smashwords was the first site I published Emergency Laughter on, in part, because of the wealth of information generously offered by Mr. Coker, for free, in his Style Guide, Book Marketing Guide and his Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.
Smashwords gave me the tools, knowledge and opportunity to make my dream a reality. For that, I will always be faithful to Smashwords.
Why did you write Emergency Laughter?
I wrote both Emergency Laughter books simply to make people laugh. That, and I wanted to see if I could survive as a writer.
Judging by the reviews, I've made a few people laugh, which is great because nothing feels better than a really good laugh.
As far as surviving as a writer...I've been really lucky, but I won't quit the day job, which I don't have right at the moment....
What is your writing process?
I seem to write best in the wee hours of the morning, and when I'm in the car waiting for my wife to get out of whatever store she's in. I saw a "study" once that said, on average, men spend three years of their life waiting for women. That's a lot of writing.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
When I first published Emergency Laughter in 2011, I followed all the marketing guru's advice and emailed gobs of contacts and everyone I've known since birth. I added links in my email signature and tweeked my web site and tweeted and twittered and googled and facebooked and established myself online. I direct linked to my Smashwords book page, author bio and free ebook sample pages. I did the same thing on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I made sure all my profiles were good. I posted on blogs and forums. (Don't be aggressive on forums, it gets you no where)

Then I sent out pamphlets in the mail, made business cards and passed those out to people. I put cards or fliers inside the magazines while I waited in line at the supermarket. I put a sign on my car, put a couple thousand fliers on car windshields, I set up interviews online and in print magazines and podcasts. I spent hours and hours doing nothing but marketing.

I still can't say for certain which was most effective, but some of it worked because I've sold over 25,000 copies so far.

I think the best advice I got was know your audience, think outside the box, and be ready for the time commitment. Unless you're already famous, don't get bummed out if it takes three, four or eight months for sales to start taking off. When they say it's a marathon, not a sprint, they aren't joking.
When did you first start writing?
I come from a family of writers so it has always been a part of my life. I didn't get serious about writing until about ten years ago when I was a medic on a ship sailing Alaska's Bering Sea. I hauled around my stories in a big box, constantly adding to it until four years ago when I had a large bone tumor taken out of my left femur.
That's when I got really serious about producing a book, and Ta-da! the Emergency Laughter series was born.
Describe your desk
I haven't actually seen my desk in a while....
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Seattle, Washington.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything that makes me laugh.
Nonfiction history.
Stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Literature on why I've been unable to train my Yorkie to do anything but "Sit" and "Go see mommy."
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted the reader to decide what they wanted to read and not some gatekeeper at a large publishing house. They were dictating what readers should and could read. I think readers are smart enough to decide that for themselves.
I also hated writing query letters. Everyone had their own little nit-picky things that they did, or didn't want in a query. I understood the reasoning behind it, but still, it drove me nuts.
I spent years believing that self-publishing was for egomaniacs, or loser writers who weren't good enough to get published by traditional publishers.
And then things changed. The eBook revolution took off and suddenly the self-published author had control of their work, income and destiny. The image of being a self-published author also began to change, in part, because now big name, big money authors were turning their backs on traditional publishers and going indie in a big way.
It's a wonderful thing to see.
The fact that the self-published author now had control of their work and destiny was very important to me. It's a wonderful thing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Making people laugh and connecting with my readers. Being able to pay my rent is also a big joy in my life.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Mostly my dog standing on my chest, licking me in the face until I get up.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and how do you deal with it?
If writer’s block is procrastinating and doing everything else in the world except sitting my ass down and writing, then yes, I suffer from writer’s block.
How do I deal with it? Looking at my bank account usually takes care of any motivational problems I might be suffering from. I also talk quite often with all the nice people from the bank who want to know when I’m going to deposit enough money to take care of my overdrafts. They’re similar to a support group…only…different.
What's the worst job you ever had?
I don't know if it was the worst, but I'm color blind and I used to paint houses...with my color blind brother!
What are you working on next?
My second book, "More Emergency Laughter: Tales of Humor Inside Ambulances and Operating Rooms," will be available before Christmas, right here on Smashwords.
Published 2013-11-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Emergency Laughter: Stories of Humor Inside Ambulances and Operating Rooms
Series: Emergency Laughter. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 34,690. Language: English. Published: May 22, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Medicine, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor & satire
Emergency Laughter: Stories of Humor Inside Ambulances and Operating Rooms shows why most health care professionals have such a twisted sense of humor and how critical laughter is to the survival of both patient and care giver.
Emergency Laughter: It Wasn't Funny When It Happened, But it is Now!
Series: Emergency Laughter. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 28,850. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor & satire, Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Medicine
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Emergency Laughter: It Wasn't Funny When It Happened, But It Is Now! A collection of hilarious real-life medical stories written by a 20-year veteran of emergency medicine & surgery. Laughter helps the mind, heals the body and is a critical survival tool for all who deal with death, dying and disaster up close. Author Mike Cyra shows that it's ok to laugh at yourself and the world around you.