Interview with Bill Weiss

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have been telling stories since before kindergarten, and publishing has been a dream of mine since my first trip to a library. Although I have considered mainstream publishing, the e-book revolution and affordable tablets has opened the door to great books that might otherwise have languished on some editor’s slush pile. Independent publishing, although more work for the author, allows greater control over our work and the ability to experiment.
Why have you come to Smashwords?
I learned about Smashwords through the Writing Excuses podcast. the cast seemed pumped about this venue, so I decided to give it a try. So far, the user environment and wealth of helpful tools has me believing they had good reason to be excited.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My biggest thrill comes from knowing that I can help readers escape for just a little while and experience people, places and situations that are totally new to them. I especially like knowing they will have that “Ahah!” moment when a surprise hits them full force.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fellow writers who have discovered my 1,000 Days in Writerspark series have expressed appreciation for the inspiration gained from using my exercise seeds to create new work. Simply knowing that folks have been energized and whole new creative pieces exist through my books is exhilarating.
What are you working on next?
Currently, I am formatting three additions to my first 1,000 Days in Writerspark e-book. I hope to have those up over the next few weeks.

My next efforts include a short story collection, a novel I am revising from the 2011 NANOWRIMO, a Steampunk novel that began as a short story, along with continued efforts on my Writerspark online group and the Writersblog.
Who are your favorite authors?
Steinbeck, Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, Cherie Priest--basically any author whose tight, clean prose make me feel I am there.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Words.

I can't remember a morning when a new idea or a solution to a current story problem hasn't been the first thing on my mind. I grab by phone and type it into my notes app, and return to it later when I sit down to write. Starting the day with ideas is better than caffeine.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm always reading something, mostly every short story collection I can find. When I'm not reading or writing, I'm hanging with my three grandsons, seeing a movie (I'm a movie junkie), or taking a walk with a podcast piping through my ear buds.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Ebook reading suggestions come from everywhere--friends, magazines, podcasts...Lately, however, I have been reading everything steampunk I can download. The genre blends history with science fiction and urban fantasy in entirely unexpected ways. I'm working on a steampunk yarn of my own as we speak.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember the first one I told--I was only three at the time, so couldn't write. My dad was in the Air Force, stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, and we were on the way home in his old early 1950s Ford. My story involved the car becoming stranded in a ditch and a kindly moose strolling by and helping to pull us out with a rope. Hey, I was three!
What is your writing process?
I am a total pantser. I get an idea, roll it around my head for a bit, then just start writing. I love being surprised by where a story takes me. I figure if I am surprised and energized, my readers will be, too.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The story that had the most impact on me was A Lust For Life, by Irving Stone. It brilliantly captured the often tortured soul of the creative individual by illustrating the tormented life of artist Vinvect Van Gogh. I still remember the sights and smells that surrounded me the first time I read that book.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
A Lust For Life, Irving Stone, for its depiction of the tortured creative soul.

Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe. for its riveting account of man against nature and himself.

Boneshaker, Cherie Priest, for its steampunk world and character building. This was my introduction to steampunk.

The Old Man and The Sea, Ernest Hemingway, for its tight prose, even tighter setting and the way it draws readers in to the struggle.

The entire The Best American Short Stories series. I'm a short fiction junkie.
What do you read for pleasure?
Steampunk. Anything steampunk.

And short fiction collections.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
i received an iPad as a gift about a year ago, and since it affords me more app capabilities than did my Nook Color, I use the iPad almost exclusively. Although my Nook is on my nightstand for late night reading.
Describe your desk
There's a desk under this stuff?
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Great question!

I grew up in Chicago, in a near-northwest side neighborhood called Bucktown. The street I lived on was Dickens Street; two streets over was Shakespeare and next came Webster. How could writing and reading not be part of my life. I still remember waiting in all kinds of weather for the bookmobile to come--the bus that served as our neighborhood library. I always hopped out the back door with an arm load. I was in third grade when I participated in a campaign to get funding for a neighborhood library, and I won a prize. we got our library and it is still there today.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Which one? I'm working on two.

One is a sci-fi(ish) yarn set in Chicago during the early stags of WWII; the other is a late 1800s steampunk, also set in Chicago.
What instrument or software do you use to write?
Most of my writing is done in Microsoft Word, although I recently purchased Scrivener and am loving it. when I'm writing on my iPad, I use Pages. I also come home with scraps of paper with notes in my pocket and notes on my phone's notes app. I even email myself research and ideas from my phone. Whatever gets the job done.
What piece of writing advice has most impacted your writing?
During the late 1990s, I attended a reading by Allen Ginsberg of his Selected Poems at a Overland Park, KS Borders store. At the end, while he was signing books, he took a moment to speak with me privately and then wrote "First thought, best thought" in my book. He cautioned against self editing and told me to "Just let it all flood onto the page. Puke words. You can always clean up later."

His words helped me to silence my internal editor so I could write more freely and get more ideas onto the page.
What prompted you to start taking writing seriously?
That's easy. for my 40th birthday, my wife (now my ex, but still a great friend) bought me a creative writing class at a local community college. I was scared to death, knowing I was twice the age of the other students and so long out of school. I almost didn't go. But I immediately latched onto short fiction, aced the class and was invited to the professor's exclusive (four students) summer class and aced that one, too. I've been writing stories and poems and actually letting people see them ever since.
What genre do you prefer to write?
I'm all over the map. Members of my live creative writing critique group comment regularly about my ability to write strong stories in virtually every genre I attempt. so I write about anything and everything. I am, however, currently working on a 1940s sci-fiish book and a late 19th century steampunk yarn.
Published 2014-05-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Your Fourth 1,000 Days in Writerspark
Series: 1,000 Days in Writerspark: 1,000 Tight Writing Exercises, Book 4. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 44,680. Language: English. Published: May 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Educational, Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Writer's block or just plain lack of inspiration strike every writer from time to time. Your Fourth 1,000 Days in Writerspark is the fourth in a series of ebooks, each crammed with 1,000 unique creative writing exercises.
Your Third 1,000 Days in Writerspark
Series: 1,000 Days in Writerspark: 1,000 Tight Writing Exercises, Book 3. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 37,170. Language: English. Published: May 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Educational, Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Writer's block or just plain lack of inspiration strike every writer from time to time. Your Third 1,000 Days in Writerspark is the third in a series of ebooks, each crammed with 1,000 unique creative writing exercises.
Your Second 1,000 Days in Writerspark
Series: 1,000 Days in Writerspark: 1,000 Tight Writing Exercises, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 35,650. Language: English. Published: May 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Educational, Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Writer's block or just plain lack of inspiration strike every writer from time to time. Your Second 1,000 Days in Writerspark is the second in a series of ebooks, each crammed with 1,000 unique creative writing exercises.
Your First 1,000 Days in Writerspark
Series: 1,000 Days in Writerspark: 1,000 Tight Writing Exercises, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 23,750. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Educational, Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Writer's block or just plain lack of inspiration strike every writer from time to time. Your First 1,000 Days in Writerspark is the first in a series of ebooks each crammed with 1,000 unique creative writing exercises.