I spend years jotting down notes resulting from flashes of inspiration. Sooner or later, I realize there is a topic I care about so much that I can write a whole book on it. So I gather my notes, and spend some time deciding exactly what I want the book to be about, and who I'm targeting the book to. Usually, I have to start organizing the story before I can know who my target audience will be. I've got to get my notes from a chaotic mess into an organized format. Then I can decide if characters will be involved, and if so, how many. After that, I have to decide what purpose will they play. This will help me to decide if my readers have any reason to care about these characters. My first book had no characters because its purpose was to be more of a self-help guide. But The Great American Adventures of Modern Big City Railroading needed characters to bring the central theme of the piece home for the readers.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Well, if you mean the first story I even stuck to reading from beginning to end, that would be talk-show host Montel Williams's autobiography "Mountain, Get Out of my Way." I was about 16 or 17, and Montel Williams was my favorite talk-show host at that time. I remember the adversity and challenges I read about him overcoming, and it made me realize that I knew I wanted to do something important with my life, and leave a powerful message to affect others.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The autobiography of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; the autobiography of Insane Clown Posse; "Power of Focus", written by the guys who wrote the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series; "The Ultimate Success Secret" written by Dan Kennedy; and Napoleon Hill's classic and undying "Think And Grow Rich". Firstly, every single one of these five books is about success and prosperity. The two autobiographies are about overcoming great adversity, and climbing to the top from pretty much the very bottom. Power of Focus tells you about the only way you are ever going to have any lasting success or achieve anything in this world, and that is to have focus and practice discipline, and to get you life organized. I like Dan Kennedy because he is a no-nonsense man. He tells me what I don't want to hear: that I'm not successful because I don't want to be. Because I'm not doing everything I can to get successful. Not everyone has the balls to tell you that you don't have what you want because you're too lazy to get it. I like people who take this approach because everyone else coddles you and tells you the world is keeping you down, making you feel like and infant who rises and falls at the whims of outside forces, of someone else. Napoleon Hill's book is timeless, and is full of principles that are just as relevant today as they were in 1937, when he first published it. That is the first book that should be read by anyone who wants to find any kind of success.
What do you read for pleasure?
Magazines. Magazines are far richer in knowledge than people give them credit for. Each magazine is full of fun and trivia, and great educational material, as well as "what's happenin' in the world today" in its field of focus. Hell, I've even heard of people getting educated with magazines. Not hard for me to believe!
When did you first start writing?
Well, there are two answers to this question. Number one: college. Writing papers in my freshman year of college was the beginning of me realizing that I had an actual love for writing. Those book reports and speeches were my favorite college assignments. By the end of freshman year, I realized that I had that "last minute inspiration" thing down when it came to writing papers! In junior year, the theatre department let us students direct one-act plays. I didn't write the one I did, but afterwards, I tried to write my own play just in case the opportunity came again. The second answer to this question is: following a post-college internship. I graduated with a degree in public relations, an a few months later got a 3-month internship with a PR agency. One day during those three months, I was invited to sit in on a brainstorming session. I was told that I could participate if I wanted to, and to feel free to share any ideas I have because no idea is a bad idea during a brainstorming session. Well, my mind was blank throughout the whole session. I literally, had nothing to contribute, and was the only one who had nothing to say. As you can probably imagine, I felt embarrassed. What was even worse is on the train ride home after work, my mind became flooded with brainstorming session ideas. I was pissed! So starting that day, I decided that a notebook was going to be on my person at all times, just in can the inspiration decided to flow in at an inconvenient time. That day, in my opinion, is the day I became a writer!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Great American Adventures of Modern Big City Railroading provides a vastly different look on the world of big city public transportation. The point of this book is to get readers to see that there is no better tour ride or tourist attraction in the big city than the city railroad. Circus Larry is, in essence, me. He is a reflection of my desire to encourage big city residents to get out of their ordinary lives, circling their neighborhood and out into the city as a whole, to see and experience the wonders of their big city. The journalist narrator represents the occasional big city rider, who feels more comfortable in their own private vehicle, and rides public transportation as a convenience, not a necessity. But Circus Larry tries to help the narrator see that the big city railroad is "the greatest attraction in the big city". The book was written over the course of more than a decade of riding the big city railroad, and many time jotting down on paper my feelings and emotions, good and bad, about my experiences riding the rail. I spent four years turning my experiences into this book, to attract others to the big city rail. One reviewer told me that he feels my book could have been a lot longer, and I totally agree! I even have notes that were omitted from the book to prove it. But I wanted to try to keeps the book as short and simple as possible in order to avoid reiterating the same points over and over again. I believe my book is different because the aim is not to use facts like lower fuel emissions or crowded expressways to entice one to public transportation, but rather to bring out the adventurer inside of every big city resident.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is what comes naturally to me, and it always feels great to me, just knowing this whole story was created by me: by my hard work and dedication. Writing a book is labor, for sure, but it is a labor of love for me. Kind of like...making something out of nothing. Finding a way to push people's buttons, and make them see things from another prospective.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I am working on my first novel, which will be a lot longer than my first two published books put together. I am going in a different direction with this novel and, in fact, it will the first in a series. This series will attempt to show people a lot of the ugly realities about life through history lessons, and will attempt to illustrate that there is a whole lot more going on in this crazy world than most people realize.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Having plans and goals to which i intend to standfast in order to do my part to make a difference in this world. Because my feeling is that you are not fulfilling your purpose in this world if you are not doing something you absolutely love. So if you do, for instance, have to get up and work a job that you are in only for the money, then you should be doing something else everyday that brings you closer to getting to the point where you can start doing for a living that which you love, which you do naturally, which gets you our of bed everyday!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to travel, visit friends out of state, go rafting and kayaking, ride public transit to neighborhoods far away from home, volunteer at the theatre, listen to interesting topics being discussed on YouTube, practice creating characters with my voice (I've been told I have a great voice), and basically try things that are new and exciting. But my bookbag goes with me everywhere because if I'm inspired while doing something else, it will get written in my notebook!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Well, in 2009, I decided that I wanted my book on volunteering to be published right now, not waste months and even years sucking up to literary agents and traditional book publishers, when in that same time, my book could be getting into the hands of the only people whose opinions really count: the reading public's. And if the price for that decision had to be paid from my bank account, well, then that was the price that had to be paid!
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"Told from a humorous point of view The Great American Adventures of Modern Big City Railroading is a very poignant piece that urges the reader to take a step back from their everyday lives and appreciate the big city life that is available to them." - Red City Review