Interview with Roger M. Woodbury

Describe your desk
My desk is an odd shaped thing. Initially, it began life as a computer work station that I designed and had built almost twenty years ago. That portion of it sits at an angle to the door of my study. It is painted a very dull, gray and is the top and keyboard tray are covered with a rather attractive gray laminate. Just below where my left hand sits when I type is a notch about 1/2 X 3/4 inches that got knocked out of the laminate years ago. I call it a "war wound"!

Because I took over this room as my study several years ago, and I needed more space than just this workstation, I added on to it. To the left of where I sit is one of the east facing windows looking out onto the side yard. There are two identical windows that are separated by a large bump in the wall which concealed the old chimney rising up from the basement and goes up through the roof. I cut from a large sheet of heavy plywood an addition that conforms to the desk angle and extends to the wall covering the chimney, then back along my left side as a large "return". I can now swivel my chair to the left where I have a large work space for making notes, or placing books or other research documents, then immediately swivel about 1/3 turn to the right and return to typing. The new surface is painted a hard-surface, moderately glossy white.

Oh, yes, the addition to my desk doesn't meet the window at all. In front of the window is a shelf covered with old carpeting that is a sunny place for my writing Partner to spend his mornings. His name is Opus and he's an eight year old Maine Coon Cat. It is significant to mention here that he has lots and lots of toes....seven on his right front and rear paws, and six on the left. One would almost think that might make him a terrific typist, which it probably does. The problem is that even with a spell checker, his work comes out poorly!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a nice town about eighteen miles west of Boston. Both my mother and father were teachers and I remember both of them reading to me when I was a child. They encouraged me every step of the way, and encouraged me to be interested in everything and tell them not only what I saw and did, but what I imagined I saw and did, which is probably the chief reason I was drawn early to writing.
When did you first start writing?
Forth grade, but it was really in the fifth grade that I wrote my first, multi-chapter story. In those days my favorite television program (BLACK and WHITE!) was Space Patrol. It was on Saturday mornings at nine a.m., and I couldn't wait to find out what exploits of Commander Buzz Corey and his crew were up to! Naturally, my first story was about Buzz, his incredibly beautiful girlfriend, Carol Carlysle and the others.

It was at the end of the school year. My class had been transported by bus to an entirely different school because the new elementary school that we would have been in that year was not completed in time for school to commence. Once it was opened, which was in May, we moved back, but things were so disrupted, the last two weeks of school we were given "freedom" to do pretty much any school project we wished, and mine was to write that long adventure of my favorite heroes.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I began "The Mists of Adriana" as a monthly column for an on-line sports car club that I belonged to in the mid-1990's. I lived not far from Acadia National Park and had realized one of my dream-goals: I bought a very nice Porsche 928 (used of course!) and enjoyed taking leisurely morning drives around Acadia National Park, stopping along the way to photograph some of the incredibly beautiful sights there are to see on Mt. Desert Island.

Since I wrote articles about driving my car and living in such a scenic area, the idea occurred to me that it might be interesting to members of the club if I began writing about meeting other people on the road. Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island in general is pretty sleepy in other than the summer months, so it seemed to just fall into place that I would meet someone along the road in another Porsche in an off month. I had no real plan, but one day sat down and started to write what was the first installment of the story of Adriana Barrows for that ezine.

Well the ezine fell of its own weight and I never got further than the first episode. About ten years later, I was cleaning out some old files and came across that first episode and read it to my wife. Her reaction was immediate: "You must finish this as a novel!"

At that point I had only a beginning and I didn't like that very much at all. So I began to rewrite and soon, the person who became Adriana Barrows, beautiful, mysterious, capable, yet not entirely perfect, began to emerge and "The Mists of Adriana" was born.

I thought that might be all there was to it. When Adriana went away at the end, the reaction from those who had read the book was immediate: where was she going? Would she return? PLEASE bring her back! Thus, Book II was born and it will be released before the end of 2013.

And yes, there will be a Book III and that will be the concluding installment in the series, "The Mists of Adriana". But my wife thinks there MUST be a prequel, and she believes when they read Book II, they will agree! And I've started thinking about it already!

Quite often I am asked if The Mists of Adriana is autobiographical. The simple answer is, "no". We all write from the basis of our experiences. I have lived in Maine full time since 1977 and have family roots that go back to before Maine was much more than wilderness so I know well the state generally. I was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war, although I never was sent to Vietnam and in point of fact, my job was entirely different from that of an infantry officer. But I lived through the time and knew well much of the detail of that period. The Mists of Adriana began to be written in the first person because initially I wanted my reader, the members of that on line sports car club, to imagine the story to be really about me. Perhaps you wish to think of it that way when you read it, and if you do, I will be terribly pleased because one of my desires in my writing is for the reader to actually see, feel and taste the places, events, and yes, even the lunches that are being eaten by the characters.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I always knew when I finished doing the twenty seventeen odd things that I wanted to do, I would some day sit down and just be a writer. Many years ago my wife ( of that time!) suggested I take a writing course at the local adult education program. That instructor was a retired newspaper man who encouraged me to write more and more, and I suppose as an adult, his admonition that "a writer writes", was my first serious stimulation to write, write, write as an adult.

Finally after retiring for the second time, I took another course and that instructor spent quite a bit of time speaking about independent publishing as a way to not only create but to actually get my creations into circulation. I did a bit of independent research and it began to be clear that being an indie author was the way that writing and publishing of all kinds of writing was heading. I was no stranger to the Internet and the personal computer so it was easy to just learn more of the technical side of self-publishing by using Smashwords, for instance, and the rest has been easy.
What do your fans mean to you?
My "fans"? Well, I don't know about 'fans". I appreciate all who ready my work regardless of whether or not they are my "fans". I hope people who read my books like them well enough not only to buy the next one to read, but will tell their friends about my books and encourage them to read them also.

For many years I was in the commercial insurance business. In the state of Maine, small to medium sized businesses are scattered out over a very large geographical territory. When I was developing my agency, I had to travel a lot, and travel a lot in all kinds of weather. Not only was the traveling difficult, but securing new clients in towns a hundred or more miles from my office required a lot of effort, especially consistancy in servicing those clients. I made it a point to plan on stopping by each and every business either once per month or whenever the client wished for me to stop by. That meant hours in the automobile day and night, but the result was that the vast majority of my clients realized that I cared about them and their businesses and that I would "show up" when I was needed. That is the approach I take to my "fans" or readers of my books: I am accessible and responsive to their comments and criticisms, and have had numerous lengthy discussions via email with those who have read my books. Thus my "fans" mean everything to me! They are my life blood!

This is a very interesting question for me to answer and I have been thinking of it quite a lot. I have decided to make a change in all of my books and once The Mists of Adriana: Book II is published, I will revise all my previous work adding a page at the end that will include an email address for readers to use if they wish to send me their comments, complaints, or even, accolades. I have been fortunate to actually speak with some of my readers via email, and one was truly excited to be able to actually communicate with the author of the book he was then in the process of reading. I believe this to be very important for both me as an author and more so for the benefit of the reader who has chosen to lay down his or her hard money to read what I have written. This communication is an opportunity to grow and learn from others. Many authors often like to hide in the anonymity of distance and of course, the use of pen names serves the same purpose. I have decided to write under my own name and to be accessible to my readers and to take the good, the bad and the caustic comments as necessary fertilizer to my writing which is a living, growing process.
What are you working on next?
As I write this, I am completing a detailed synopsis of Book III of The Mists of Adriana. I expect to begin to write sometime in the early part of the spring. Behind that is a fourth book in the series, although that's quite a way out. It will not be about Adriana, but her family roots so likely there will be a different title, although it will be indicated as being a part of "The Mists of Adriana" series.
Who are your favorite authors?
Well, Hemmingway, of course. I also enjoy re-reading much of Robert Ruark as well, particularly his "old man and the boy" books. I seem to like authors from a time when people really had much of the rest of the world to learn about, rather than just assume everything here in the US anyway, always revolved around us.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The alternative would be what? I learned a long time ago there were just a few essential rules in life, and the first one was to get out of bed in the morning. Nothing else will be accomplished with the day until that happens and no matter how invincible we may feel about ourselves, we have only so many days to accomplish...well, THAT day that lies ahead.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don't read as much as I like to, but when I do read, I usually am reading something that I either will read for the purposes of writing a review, or I will read something that covers a particular subject that I need to learn more about. For more than two years now I have been reading books by independent authors and reviewing them on various Internet websites. My reviews are far more complicated than the normal two sentence blubs that accompany five stars on Amazon and else where. I write cohesive commentaries about the books, and begin by studying the author and what is or her qualifications are to write the book in the first place. I don't "tear up" anyone's work, and if the book isn't well enough written or printed to gain and hold my attention, I just don't read it at all. My purpose is to read and review something critically to someone else can make a buying decision based in part by real information that my review includes. I support all my comments by actual paragraph references within the book, so it is apt to take some time, not in my reading the book but in my writing the review. One project on a burner here right now, is to figure out how to generate some revenue from this process that does NOT involved an author actually paying to have his or her book reviewed. This might be some sort of website, but that project is one other of those that takes time away from writing.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Without doubt posting on the social media sites, especially Facebook has proven the most effective. When I first introduced The Mists of Adriana, I had a free book giveaway and more than 3000 books were given out. I thought I would have tremendous numbers of reviews after that but quite the contrary was the result. In fact, I doubt that many of those first three thousand books were ever read and probably were downloaded because they were free. So I ratcheted up my social marketing efforts and sales were much better. To be truthful, I have done relatively little with social media, and don't really know HOW to do a lot with it. I have a Twitter account but the whole business of "tweets" makes little sense to me. Now with the introduction of second book in Adriana Barrow's story, I know I must vastly improve my web "presence" and master the whole business of social media marketing. But I don't really want to and would rather just write.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Very little so far, other than made it easy to have my books in so many other distribution channels than without Smashwords. In fairness, I have't really plumbed the depths of the opportunities for marketing that Smashwords offers. As with my reaction to the question about the most effective means of selling my books, I would rather just write than have to do all the rest of the stuff that you have to do as an independent author.
What is your writing process?
I spend a lot of time thinking about the story. I do this while I am doing all sorts of other things...mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, grocery shopping, and so forth. I will spin the story around and around, visualize the characters and what they might be thinking long before I actually sit down to write anything. I seldom use much in the way of outlining or "pre-writing". It's all in my head and at some point in the thought process, I'll sit before the computer keyboard and start to write something. That session can take anywhere up to four or five hours and often is before dawn until mid-morning. Then I'll shut down whatever it was I wrote and a day or three later will revisit what I wrote, make some corrections or perhaps just continue. After a couple of weeks, the story has taken control of what I am writing and I will begin to put together ten or fifteen pages at a sitting. After fifty or sixty thousand words, I'll start to review, edit and rewrite, but by that time the characters and their actions have taken over the story and I am more a secretary than a writer and am not at all sure what will come out of one of the writing sessions, often being very surprised.
How do you approach cover design?
With distaste, fear and trepidation.
What do you read for pleasure?
I don't read for "pleasure". I read things of interest and anything not of interest or anything that I begin that is poorly written poorly edited or full errors of one sort of another, I simply put down. If the book or story is good, then it is a pleasurable experience, but for pure pleasure, I watch films and videos.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Personal computer and large flat panel screen.
Published 2014-02-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Mists of Adriana - Book II
Series: The Mists of Adriana, Book 2. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 111,010. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Adriana Barrows returns on an intelligence mission to Pakistan. When the mission fails she returns to Maine and eventually the Narrator/lover helps her to recover from not only her physical, but her post traumatic injuries as well. The discovery of local drug trafficking engages the couple. They watch the events of 911 in horror and Adriana is recalled. There are signs of grave danger left behind.
The Mists of Adriana
Series: The Mists of Adriana. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 90,040. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
Intrigue, danger, romance on the Maine coast! He enjoys early morning drives near Acadia National Park. One morning he stops to assist a beautiful woman who has car trouble. She's mysterious and beautiful but her exotic background proves to be not so far in the past. Now, he relearns a bitter lesson from his past: that as in the fog of war, when things seem too good to be true, they probably are.