In high school and college I enjoyed my English and Literature courses, but especially liked it when the assignment required imagination. I mean, when I was able to write what I wanted, not just feedback from the lessons or a book report. I first thought of writing a book while teaching in the 70's and 80's. But I thought the book would be about teaching acting or play production to youth. And I considered a book on track and field for students. Theater and coaching track were my passions then, and I had developed a training philosophy and many coaching procedures from my research and experiences in both disciplines. I did write an adaptation of a Russian folk tale for the stage. I produced and directed it with High School students. The idea of writing a novel came much later, after my teaching and coaching careers were over, and I retired in 2010. I began devouring mysteries, and decided to begin writing my own.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are many authors that I greatly admire in many genres. Their books are the ones that make me smile, laugh, or cry while reading, and keep and treasure afterward. If you borrow a Vonnegut from my collection, you will bring it back, or I'll go after it. I also save Shakespeare, Barbara Kingsolver, Joseph Wambaugh, and others. My favorite mystery writers who have provided inspiration mainly because of their style, construction, characters and dialogue are George V. Higgins, Stuart Woods, Wambaugh, Ross MacDonald, Elmore Leonard, and William G. Tappley. I love their clever dialogue, and I hope I can someday write something remotely similar.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As a writer I'm a slacker. I don't write as often as I should. My second book should be finished by now, instead of being 2/3 completed. Not many days go by when I don't think about writing. I do write notes from observations, random thoughts, or research. I spend time with my wife, which means visiting family in New Orleans or New England. Otherwise I'm in the kitchen (eating or cooking) or on the golf course. I'm a big sports fan, so I'll watch golf, baseball, or soccer on TV, if there is no live game nearby.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly from sites or posts by many of the author friends I have made at promotions or met online. Most e-books I read are by authors I know in some way.
What is your writing process?
I write notes on paper. I always carry a notebook. I write down ideas that come to me at the grocery store, the golf course, riding in the car, watching TV, reading, or anywhere. Those notes get copied and sorted into note sheets for characters, plots, dialogue, etc. It could be simply a name, a phrase, or a whole scene or plot line. I don't really follow an outline, I just rearrange, scratch out, or expand my notes. I also keep notes on research, to be sure the medical, geographical, or other facts are accurate. While actually writing these note papers are spread around for easy access. Some are useless, but some provide new inspiration as I go. My process is an organized mess.
How do you approach cover design?
I only have two covers since I have only two books, one published and one a work in progress. Since I have some artistic and computer abilities, I prefer to design my own covers. Both have been designed from a photo I took. I have designed some from artwork, but I like those from photos better. The cover must fit in with the genre and theme of the book among many other factors. I select the cover from the many I have developed during the writing period.
Willowtree is a wonderful book with Bruce DelReno as the main character. What was your inspiration for this book?
While commuting to work in Sedona from my home, passing through the Prescott National Forest, I daily admired an area of land and thought it would be a great location for a home or resort, even a town. That was the clincher for me in deciding to write my book. That is the location of Willowtree, my ficticious town. The vistas described in Bruce's narrative are from this place. I think my experiences as a mailman and golf enthusiast led me to create my alter-ego, Bruce DelReno. A small town where the golf course was the main attraction was appealing to me, since playing golf and waiting for the mailman were now my main activities. The story simply evolved from a simple beginning, finding a dead body. The town I live in contains many of the desert willows I wrote about, and the jimsonweed grows abundantly on the golf course.
What do you hope readers will experience while reading your books?
The main thing is to have fun. I hope readers enjoy the reading process. It is just a story told in a simple style. I hope they "get" most of my sometimes odd humor. I write as I speak, very concisely, even terse. So I don't advise skimming my book, there really aren't that many words. I also hope that readers can feel my appreciation for for certain things like the beautiful desert willows, a golf game, and caring friendships like those between the good-guys in my story.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has provided a great opportunity for new authors to get readers. Coupon promotions have given many readers the ability to get books, including Willowtree, free or at a reduced cost. I believe the best thing Smashwords does is offer the book in many formats. Another helpful offering at Smashwords is the encouragement it gives readers to leave a review.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Like most writers, I suppose inspiration for writing comes from the joy of reading. What is a greater joy than reading something you wrote and understanding its meaning? We write what we know. Throw in some imagination, and we have enhanced our experiences. Preserving and sharing those ideas on paper, or electronically, is fun. Writing is work, disguised as fun. I like fun. But the most joy I get comes from a reader who says he/she likes my work.
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