The way I go about writing has changed over the years. I started out by just sitting down and writing and hoping something would emerge. That style evolved into one of coming up with an idea and before ever putting things on paper or sitting down at the keyboard playing with it in my mind. I first try to decide if it is a short story, a poem, or a novel. My favorite time of doing this is as I am going to sleep. I have always hoped that the idea would emerge fully in a dream and I could write it down the next morning. It has never happened. If I decide an idea is worth pursuing, I start by jotting down ideas. I next try getting an idea of the characters in the story. I will write very short biographies of the main characters starting with the protagonist. The last thing I do before pursuing an idea is to lay out a very brief storyline. If I feel the story is worthwhile, I begin to write. This method has not always been successful. I have started some projects only to drop them realizing they lacked “something.”
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first stories I remember were read to me from Mother Goose. The first book I remembered reading was The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had to pick a book to read and that was my choice. It was in a two-room schoolhouse – it was called a two-room school house because it had a cloak room and a classroom. The only source of water was a hand pump and there a boy and a girl outhouse. In the boy’s outhouse, there was a piece of rain gutter that served as a urinal. I think our teacher must have of been a bit of a con artist because one of the best jobs you could get in the winter was chipping the yellow ice out of the rain gutter! This school had all grades in it up to but not including high school. While the teacher was teaching other grades, we were to read. I remember thinking the book was like this story of the winter in it and never ending, but I enjoyed it each day. I felt lost when the book ended.
How do you approach cover design?
I am a writer and not a graphic artist. I have found a great artist who does my covers.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
When I got my master’s degree, I had a reading list of over 600 novels. I must have read that number and many more over the years. It would be more than unfair for me to single out just five novels.
What do you read for pleasure?
I have to be very careful of what I read when I am working on a project. I found out in school that I am a bit of a chameleon and end up writing in the manner of whatever author I am reading. Can you imagine an assigned paper reading like Jane Austen? I have to give you a bit of background here or my answer will not make much sense to you. I worked for 12 years in a postdoctoral research lab at the University of Pennsylvania, Moore School of Electrical Engineering. When I am writing, I enjoy reading technical articles from peer-reviewed journals. Since I find myself writing almost constantly, that is my reading.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I cannot say I have found any useful marketing technique beyond word-of-mouth. I find my work is read in small pockets around the country where a bookstore owner has promoted my books.
Describe your desk
Messy! My desk is a genuine IKEA type of desk. It houses a homemade platform made out of three-quarter inch plywood – unfinished. That holds my amateur radio equipment. I do most of my writing these days dictating to Dragon software. It is amazing how good Dragon is becoming. It used be a more useful tool because of some of the errors it made suggested ideas to me. Grin
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
This is a question I am always unsure of answering. I grew up going to over 20 different schools in two countries. I think the advantage of all of that being a writer is it gave me a broad view of the world.
When did you first start writing?
I do not remember a time when I was not telling stories or writing them down.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I currently have two novels in the works. The fantasy novel is in its late editing stages. The mystery novel is only approximately a third completed in rough draft. The idea for the fantasy novel came about because most warrior types are the unskilled or cannot use magic in fantasy novels. My protagonist can use magic very effectively much to his surprise. The mystery novel idea came about when a “spook” stationed overseas is hurt in a car accident and forced to retire to his hometown.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love to tell stories and entertain people.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It is too early to tell since I just discovered Smashword.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me, there are two joys in writing. The first happens in the editing process when I come across a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, or a scene I know is particularly well done. The second happens when someone tells me why they like something I have written it. For many years, I did not get that feedback. I was forever unsure how effective my writing was.
What do your fans mean to you?
Strange question – they are the major reason I write!
What are you working on next?
I have already commented on the two novels that I am working on. The fantasy novel in the final stages of editing, and the mystery novel which is about one third done in rough draft.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a bit like asking about my favorite book. I appreciate authors from Xenophon to Lauren Leto – all for different reasons.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My two hungry cats.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy my hobby which is amateur radio.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I search Amazon using my Kindle.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No. When I finish any piece of writing, I move on from it.
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