Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in the mountains of Idaho but spent fourteen years in Tucson, Az, where I graduated High School. But I really consider that I 'grew up' in Los Angeles. I was intrigued by science fiction, my first experience was with the grand master, Issac Asimov, and I started writing at age 14. I discovered that I had a talent with the written word. But life got in the way, Vietnam, rock n' roll (musician), marriage, raising a child as a single parent, prison, and just surviving life in general.
I was in a situation where I had a lot of time on my hands. Robert Aspirin (of Myth Conceptions, Another Fine Myth fame) edited and published a series of stories by his followers and that inspired me to begin writing again. He wrote fantasy, I wrote a western. Totally unconnected, but the writing influence and motivation was there. I have no idea why a western, I don't (or didn't) even read them. The ideas flowed, I wrote. And they turned out really well.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Traditional brick & mortar publishing is really difficult to get into. You can't get anywhere without a literary agent, and I couldn't find an agent interested in my works. Self-publishing had become the latest thing, thanks to Amazon and Smashwords. Self-promotion is the most difficult part of self-publishing, even compared to all the hard work of writing, editing, proofing, covers, etc. Getting people to know about your work on a budget of $1.27 is an impossible task.
In what genre(s) do you write?
There are five. The first was a western/detective novel. I loved creating these smarty-assed characters with two completed, the third (How Do You Steal A Tree) is in process. I read a lot of sword & sorcery fantasy and was influenced many times over by that. I've written four novels in that genre. SciFi was my first love, but I grew from that in a different direction. My SciFi novel Exile is as much about the coming together of different cultures, respect, learning from them, as it is SciFi. Tuff guy adventure would be the fourth. St. Intrepid, the kind of guy you don't want to mess with, is 'in process'. I write when the muse strikes. The fifth genre, Erotic/Adventurea (under the pseudonym Greybeard), was on the advice of a writer's online community. Someone asked, "What sells?" The emphatic answer was "Sex! Erotica!" This book was my first paperback sale (only 9 sales out of the 8 books to date). It's tough getting people to know your books are out there.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently writing in genre 4, a Tuff Guy Adventure, St. Intrepid. The main character is a take-no-prisoners former 'government operative' that just won't be messed with. Inspiration for this came from Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, specifically One Shot.
What is your writing process?
I remember seeing something from the Famous Writers School years ago. Disciplined structure, notes, outlines, a structured process. I don't do any of that. I just write. THE most important part of this process is getting the ideas from your mind onto paper (or computer screen). Get the idea out first. All the mechanics that make for a good story come during the process, AFTER the idea is out of your head.
While I'm writing, or reviewing a section, ideas will come to me. I make notes and refer to that section. I've taken three or four sentences and expanded them into an entire chapter that way. When the idea comes, write it down!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been a Godsend. The formatting guide, an ISBN, the ability to publish and get my work distributed, it was all made possible by Smashwords.
Who are your favorite authors?
It's a prolific list. Lee Child, Nelson DeMille, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, Terry Goodkind, David and Leigh Eddings, Ed Greenwood, R.A. Salvatore, Bart Davis, the list goes on.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend most of my time either writing, editing, proofing, or promoting. I'm on the computer most of the day and/or evening. I bicycle every morning (winter & summer) about 18 miles a day, aches and pains permitting. I watch movies and TV shows (commercial free) over the internet on my computer.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I seldom remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can vaguely recall a scifi adventure I started when I was fourteen. I wish I had those writings now.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Oddly enough I do. It was Issac Asimov's Pebble In The Sky. I've always been intrigued by the possibility of unusual things, SciFi is just that. It filled me with this feeling that was so awesome. I've never lost that feeling.
How do you approach cover design?
This is a very important question. The thing that first attracts a reader is whatever catches their eye, the cover. This is one place where an indie author cannot skimp. I did, I made my own covers, but I'm not a graphic artist. They looked like I made them. Blech! I finally found someone online that would take photos she or I found on photo sales sites (like CanStockPhotos) and she layered together some very professional looking covers for both full print and eBook for less than $100. It took me many months of trial and error and lackluster sales to realize you really, really need an attractive cover.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
This is the toughest part of the business. I have a marketing budget of $1.27 and that doesn't get you much. I've posted on every indie author site I can find including Google, but still getting people to notice your book out of over two million independent authors is a needle-in-the-haystack scenario. The Smashwords 50% seasonal discounts help tremendously. Marketing/promotion is an ongoing process and I'm still working on it and learning.
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