In my thirties, I read John Grisham’s THE FIRM. I toyed with the idea of writing a novel then. I made notations in the margin about the characters, plot, and point of view. I even used color markers to shade the text, identifying dialogue, narrative description, and action. I still have the paperback, which I bought from Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane. Instead of writing a novel, I enrolled in graduate school and went back nights to earn a master’s degree in health policy and administration. The capstone for my advanced degree was writing and publishing a ninety-page thesis. Fast forward to the year 2011. Running, while on vacation in Maui, I had an epiphany about writing a novel. I started to think about options for the next chapter in my professional life. That’s when I began to learn the craft. I believed I had the ability to tell stories. I thought I could teach myself how to write commercially.
What is your writing process?
I read Stephen King’s non-fiction book entitled ON WRITING. I found his process works well for me. I try to write and read a minimum of six hours per day, six days a week. I write in the morning, exercise mid-day, and read in the afternoon. I shoot for a minimum daily word count of one thousand words (or at least one scene/chapter). King’s daily word count is two thousand words. I’m an "out-liner." I use Excel to create a worksheet of scenes which includes identifying the point of view character, and tracking the character’s arc. Excel is great because I can cut and paste scenes. The first twenty percent of my book is carefully scripted. I have a good understanding where I want the book to end. The rest is organic. I leave room for the magic to happen between pages. I surprise myself.
Who are your writing influences?
My writing influences are authors who’ve affected my writing structure and style as opposed to story. Andrew Gross, who wrote six books with James Patterson, taught me to write short chapters. It creates pace and propels the reader through the story, a necessary element when writing thrillers. Steve Berry taught me a proven formula for plotting. At the twenty percent mark of your story, the author should have accomplished three key things: (1) identify the point-of-view characters; (2) define the conflict; and (3) create the crucible – the thing that motivates the protagonist to do something he or she wouldn’t otherwise do, and it must be “immediate,” “direct” and “plausible.” David Morrow, “the father of Rambo and the modern action novel” taught me "be a first rate version of myself by writing the novel only I can write." Michael Palmer taught me "be fearless…this is hard." Steven James taught me to ask three questions to solve plot problems. What would the character naturally do? How can I make things worse? How can I end the scene in an unexpected twist?
What motivated you to become an indie-author?
The emergence of independent publishing as a a viable option, the abbreviated timeline to publish, and the fact indie-publishing will likely emerge as a big winner in the future of book publishing, all convinced me to become an indie-author. I’ve since found that I also enjoy having control over all aspects of the publishing process—hiring my own editor, book cover design services, pricing, and marketing copy. The indie business model is superior with respect to royalty, revenue-sharing. Authors like CJ Lyons who have traditional publishing contracts, but independently publish their eBooks, earn more per month with eBooks than what they earn in a year with their traditional publisher. Today, I’m both an author and CEO of a global publishing company which reaches fifty countries around the world.
If writing has taught me anything, it’s taught me <fill in the blank>?
The Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference has a database of author interviews that are viewable on the website of Author Magazine. I’ve watched dozens of interviews. I find the interaction to be encouraging and uplifting. Writing can be a lonely experience. Their interview format is to conclude the interview by asking the author this question. If writing has taught me anything, it’s taught me: "to trust in the Lord with all my heart: Proverbs 3:5.”
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