Interview with Blaine Coleman

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I feel I have a story to tell and a message to share, but most of my work is in short story form (many of them very well reviewed) and poetry, but few if any agents represent new writers who only have short story collections to try to sell to a traditional publisher. I truly believe what I've written has and will resonate with many people on multiple levels and, to make my work available, indie publishing is the only viable option. For one book, I had a well-known professional voice-over artist- Charles Kahlenberg- contacted me and, although it isn't the genre he normally records, it moved him enough that he asked to be allowed to narrate it if I was willing to allow him to work on it during his other projects. Of course, I was honored and accepted his gracious offer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I lived in Petersburg, Virginia, until I was eleven years-old, then on a farm in the county south of Petersburg. Petersburg was the site of several major battles in the Civil War, so I grew up immersed in that history. My childhood neighborhood was sandwiched between a national battlefield park built around the "Crater", and a cemetery at the historic "Blandford Church". The church boasted (and still does) thirteen stained glass windows, one for each state of the Confederacy. A Ladies Association commissioned Tiffany to create the one-of-a-kind windows. Thirty thousand Confederate dead were buried in the surrounding cemetery. The "Crater" referred to the huge hole in the ground left when an important Confederate fort was literally blasted into the sky by Union forces in an attempt to disrupt the supply lines to the capitol of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. Of course, being kids, we ignored the "Stay off the earthworks!" signs and rode our bikes around and through the crater and sledded there whenever it snowed. There was just no better place for bike riding than along the tops of the old earthworks and through the crater. It was a great place for a young boy to play! I flew kites and caught insects for my bug collection in the large field in front of the Crater, attended a small church, "Crater Hill Baptist", that sat on a low hill across from the park entrance on "Crater Road" (the extensive use of "crater" in the names of the road and church denote the importance "The Crater" in local history). According to local legend, General Robert E. Lee stood on that hill and watched what became known as the battle of the crater. True or not, it's a great story for locals to tell.
A narrow strip of woods between my backyard and the big field led into the deeper woods behind the crater that were a wonderful place to play. Being so young, the wooded hills and creeks that laced them seemed mysterious, almost magical to me, and I spent a great deal of time playing in them. My friends and I caught frogs and salamanders in the creek closest to our neighborhood. We didn't keep the frogs we caught, just played with them and then put them back into the water. I was fascinated by the hard-to-catch salamanders but when I brought one home to keep, it only lived a few days so I stopped catching them. Sometimes, we even collected the jelly-like egg cases of frogs and kept in an old aquarium one of my friend's had in his family's garage and watched them hatch into tadpoles and become frogs. Amazed to watch the changes they went through, I'd check on them every day, then, when the baby frogs were large enough, we'd release them back into the creek.
Even the cemetery, with its elaborate tombstones, Confederate monuments and mausoleums, and steep, shaded roads, was a quiet, peaceful setting. And a great place for us to ride bikes away from the neighborhood. With the fields and the woods to explore and the creek down the hill from my neighborhood, plus the old cemetery, I can't imagine a better place for a young boy to spend his early years!
When I was eleven years old, my father moved us to an old family farm in the country, and I left my old friends behind. The farm had been empty for years and it showed in the rundown house. But it was surrounded by fields and forests that hadn't been cleared in at least a century, and a swamp of black water that crossed one edge of the property, deep in the woods, gave me a place to fish, which I hadn't had when we lived "in town". I'd been warned to stay away from the marl pits that the forest has grown around, that if I fell in tree roots that had grown into them would drown me, and even that a tractor was in the bottom of one. But I found them anyway, without intending to--I was walking through the woods and crossed a little rise between two trees when I realized there was water on both sides. Water so black, like tar, and so still, it reflected the trees above like a mirror.
An old, small family cemetery, in a different part of the woods--nothing more than a few broken, limestone grave markers, no longer readable--was on the "pond road", which, obviously, led to the what remained of an old mill pond where a water-driven saw had cut trees into planks that were used to build the first house on the property (lost in a fire around the turn-of-the-century) and a large barn that still stood. A concrete room built into the dam had housed the equipment powered by the pond's water and when the retaining wall broke, most of the equipment was removed. Most of the pond drained into the swamp, a few hundred feet father into the woods, and forest reclaimed much of the pond's area many years before I first saw it.
Most of the old barn's wall planks were either missing or had been replaced decades before, but the timber structure was still intact. Another place I was told to avoid because it was dangerous. Which made it all the more interesting to explore.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has gotten my books into multiple online book retailers and available for libraries nationwide to order- as well as the books being available through order at Barnes & Noble retail stores.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy in writing is the feedback I receive from readers about how my stories have changed their lives and outlook in some fashion, and in the fact that they'd like to read more as soon as I have more published. I also enjoy the sense of completion, I guess you could call it, when I've successfully put my emotions and stories into words. Of course, I never really consider any of my work to be truly "finished". Even after multiple revisions I feel as though they can always be better in one way or another.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything- I rely on my reader's insights, compliments and criticisms to help me improve my writing and for their encouragement- it helps me to feel glad I'm writing something people enjoy reading.
What are you working on next?
A novel- my first. It's completely unlike my short stories- it's something of a love story/action story set in a future America with all of today's problems magnified. Although the setting could be considered the very worst of today's America, it will, like everything I write, end on a hopeful note. If it does well, I hope it will be the first in a series involving the two main characters. I'm nearly finished with the first draft (although I've already revised most parts of it, I'll need to revise the entire work as a whole- I'm actually excited with it and work on it as often as possible- between my day job, of course).
Who are your favorite authors?
Far too many to list, but a few that come to mind: Ray Bradbury for his beautifully poetic writing (more than one reader has compared my work to his- a real honor for me), Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Brian Green, Richard Bach, Steven King, and Sheri Reynolds.
I've learned a great deal from each of these authors and from countless others and I still read an average of three or more books every month.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
An abiding faith that it will be a good day. I always keep in mind a Bible verse: "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and ne glad in it" (that may not be the exact wording, but the message is that, unlike many other people, I've been given another day and that in itself is something to celebrate, rejoice in and be grateful for).
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, gardening (working in the ground gives me a great sense of calm), and working for a living. To be totally honest, I find something to enjoy each and every day. Life really is a journey, not a destination, and that journey can be wonderful!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Browse sites for new and interesting books and look for new works from my favorite modern writers. If I buy the first book in a series and enjoy it, I invariably read the entire series.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Probably not the very first story- that was several decades ago- but the first I wrote after studying writing in college was tentatively named "The Heron". It follows the strangely beautiful journey of a man's dying and the effects on those left behind. Despite the seemingly sad story line, it ended on a note of self-illumination and hope in the face of tragedy. I put that away without a final revision years ago, but still have the story and hope to one day revise and publish it.
What is your writing process?
First, find a quiet location (although music can be helpful). then just start writing as much as possible as time allows- I was taught that it's better to write more than is needed and come back later to cut it back properly than to not write enough and then have to try and expand on it. Often, I'll record/dictate sentences and ideas on my phone and use the recordings as needed. Just the act of having to think it through verbally helps a great deal when putting the words to paper.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Absolutely! I was twelve years old when I read my first fiction- it was Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles". Bradbury's way of making a science fiction story read like poetry has inspired me ever since and is something I attempt to emulate in my own writing.
How do you approach cover design?
Trial and error in creating my own covers- two of which I'm satisfied with. In the future, I intend to hire a professional to handle that task for me.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Bible (corny answer, I know, but much of the writing, such as in Isaiah, is some of the most beautiful I've ever read).
The Martian Chronicles- Ray Bradbury (the beautifully poetic prose)
The Stand- Steven King (a well-written story with elements of possible magical happenings and a man's refusal to give up against all odds)
Illusions- Richard Bach (the concept of how a modern day messiah would be treated- and the concept that all "messiahs" die a horrible death)
Stranger in a Strange Land- Robert Heinlein (another story of a man who could be seen as a messiah and dies for his beliefs, yet still loves all things in the world because he sees God in all things)
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly science fiction, some non-fiction if it has to do with advanced physics (Brian Green's works or Gary Zukov's are just two examples), action thrillers, sometimes mysteries.
Joseph Campbell's "Myth and Mythology" can be read over and over.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Windows tablet with the Kindle app.
Describe your desk
Uh, cluttered--with notes and scraps of paper, all with ideas for whatever I'm working on at the time.
When did you first start writing?
About age fifteen, seriously after age thirty (I had the training then)
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest- "Falling Water"- is a collection of stories and poetry. The stories range from hopeful to poignant to extremely sad. Yet everything ends on a note of hope.
Published 2016-07-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Butterflies- The Adventures of Roland Mccray
Price: Free! Words: 7,680. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Anthology
These two stories offer a free introduction to “The Adventures of Roland McCray”, a collection of stories that see every moment as its own adventure, rather than adventure stories in the action-packed thriller sense. In "Butterflies", Roland discovers that not everything as it seems, and in "Poke it with a Stick", Roland learns to cherish what he has even when it isn’t what he wanted
Falling Water: Stories & Poetry
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 39,010. Language: English. Published: March 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Inspirational
REVISED STORIES, ARTWORK & POEMS (2018) This collection takes a penetrating look at life and that offers an insightful view of the realities we all face- the highs and the lows, hope, happiness, joy and the inevitable grief and suffering that must accompany the good. These vignettes are from handwritten journals. There is sadness, as in life, but also hope in the redeeming goodness of Life!
Tunnels in the Briar Patch (The Adventures of Roland McCray)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 53,130. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas, Fiction » Inspirational
Set in the 1960’s, Roland McCray’s adventures recall a simpler time when kids played for hours outdoors, instead of hours on video games. His mother took him to a Baptist church every Sunday, but it was his grandfather who taught him that real faith is not just for show; it is a quiet and unwavering belief that all things work for the good of those who seek good.
Finding Roland McCray (The Adventures of Roland McCray)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 87,630. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Inspirational
(Bks 1 & 2 in 1 volume) This is a slice-of-life look at Roland McCray from ages 8 to 18. A child during the turbulent 1960’s, Roland comes of age in the 1970’s in a town rich in Civil War history. Seeing bloody scenes of the Vietnam War on television, Roland knows war is evil. He wants the faith his grandfather lives and seeks his own Path, but fears he'll have to lose his religion to find God