Vincent Berg

Biography

Having spent a career working as a computer specialist in the financial industry in Chicago and New York City, I traveled a lot and met a lot of varied characters. I bring that experience, and a history to looking at problems in unexpected ways to weave interesting stories together.

I struggled with writing for a long time, but could never finish anything, until I realized that while I could suspend my disbelief long enough to read a novel, I couldn't do it long enough to write one. Thus I decided to ignore the standard 'rules' of writing a story.

Every time I write a story, beside a basic plot and a theme, I create a particular writing challenge (like creating a cast of hundreds, or killing of most of my characters). It may not always work, but it keeps me interested, it makes me work that much harder, and it provides some unique tales.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
That's an easy one. It was only a couple years ago, and I just published it as a book a short time ago ("An Unknown Attraction"). But if you're asking about earlier works, I wrote, illustrated and created my own book back in the third grade, which I still have. It was a school project, where we wrote original material, hand made a binding and made it as professionally as we could, all this back before the advent of personal computers or printers! It was typical little boy fair, with adventures of wild men and wizards, but it's entertaining to read now!

But it's what happened in between that's fascinating. I've always loved to write, and I learned from my father how to write long detailed letters. While he was overseas in the Navy, he wrote everyone he knew, and when I was in College and he was in Vietnam, all my friends could gather around the lunch room each time I received one, just so they could read it.

However, as much as I loved to write, I never saw myself as a writer, and thus I never studied English in college. I was always unhappy with the direction of modern literature, and felt that every book sounded alike. However, I'd always write things for myself. I was a hobby artist, always carrying a sketchbook around, and the pages would be alternately filled with both sketches and interesting story ideas.

When I became disabled much later, I had time on my hands, so I tried my hand at writing. But I never got very far. Despite having interesting ideas, I'd always lose interest after either a few pages, or a single chapter at the most.

It was after years of doing this that I realized that while I could suspend my disbelief long enough to read a short novel, I couldn't do it long enough to write one. That was when I decided to abandon how everyone advices you to write. I sat down, ignoring all the standard admonitions about writing and the next thing I knew I had 150,000 words and figured I needed an editor.

What I like to do is to tell stories. My family is the same way, and my brother is releasing his first book which consists of his stories as a hunter (a professional hunting guide). My sister writes non-fiction text books, but is now thinking of telling stories as well.
What is your writing process?
I have an unusual writing process. First of all, I never use outlines. Instead I get an idea and then let it ferment in my mind, until the ideas start to expand so much they start overflowing my mind, and then I have to scramble to write them all down.

My first book's plot "An Unknown Attraction", was essentially an excuse to throw random people together to see how they reacted. I'd just create a scene, mix the people, and then record what they said and did. It was a great process, but then I decided to try writing off-the-cuff, without first writing out a full first draft. The story ended up drifting and the number of characters really got out of control (see "Racing the Clock").

After that, I decided to change my basic writing style. I decided to cut way back on my characters (think dozens instead of hundreds!), and I changed how much I repeated myself. Essentially I removed all the characters who weren't essential to the plot, and found ways to eliminate what my main character had to tell everyone. However, that screwed up my entire writing process. My main motive was to see how random people interacted, so removing all the minor people took away much of my motivation in writing.

That substantially slowed the conclusion to my "Catalyst" series. "Building a Legacy" took FOREVER to finish! It's finally being edited now, but it turned out much improved. What's more, the frustration with the story caused me to explore new areas in the story, so it went in a couple of unexpected directions, which also tremendously helped the story.

The other thing I do is start out with an ending in mind. I don't know the details, so I don't know where the story will take me, but I know where the story is going in general. Since I like prologues and epilogues, I typically write the final epilogue about a third of the way through the book. I revise it multiple times as I proceed, only writing the final version when I'm done.

A couple cases on point, in one case (don't read further if you don't like spoilers), I knew my main character was going to end up dying, and I had an idea what would happen afterwards, but I never knew exactly HOW he'd die. I never figured that out until I was near the end of the series, and only knew the details as I was writing the final scene. That helps keep the writing fresh, because I never know how the story will turn out, despite having all the steps laid out well in advance. Even when I edit, I add in new subplots, new characters, remove scenes and reorganize chapters. I never know where my story will lead me.

The other thing I do is to set out a challenge with each story. Something that I have to work hard to overcome. This is probably really BAD advice for most writers, but it challenges me, and causes me to take the task of writing much more seriously.

In my first book, I decided I wanted a more legitimate explanation for a harem. In another, I wanted to see how many characters I could include without killing the story. In yet another book, I decided to kill off virtually everyone in the story. But in each case, I don't just dive in and see where it led. Instead I'd discuss the issue with other writers, I'd read up on how other writers handled similar challenges, and I let the ideas stew in my mind until it ripens. Thus much of my story development time comes long before I actually sit down to write.

My newest challenge, in "The Resurrection of Hope"--a new "Great Death" book--I wanted to have multiple main characters, with the story jumping from one to the other, as each one visits a separate city with separate problems to deal with. (Think "Game of Thrones" for someone who did it successfully, just like Tokein handled the death of a major character successfully.) That was why Great Death 3 took so long to start. I knew what was supposed to happen, but I didn't quite know HOW to write it yet!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Vincent Berg online


Where to buy in print


Books

Stranded
By Vincent Berg
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 114,410. Language: American English. Published: March 14, 2014. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
"Never Leave Anyone Behind" is a familiar refrain for Servicemen. A crew is incapacitated in a strange land and a hostile government tries to capture them and steal their resources. What if you're not in the military? Do you put your family's lives at risk, especially if they might not live. Josh discovers a shipwrecked alien and tries to protect it and it's crew from not only military but others.
Building A Legacy
By Vincent Berg
Series: Catalyst, Book 6. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 183,880. Language: American English. Published: December 16, 2013. Category: Fiction
With time running out, Alex faces life with a new confidence even as events and those around him change abruptly. Alex feels relieved of the need to save his people, but he still feels responsible for them and wants to leave a strong legacy. But what will that legacy be? Follow along as he adjusts to new challenges as he struggles to continue, in this, the last book of the "Catalyst" Series.
Touring Under Pressure
By Vincent Berg
Series: Catalyst, Book 5. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 208,990. Language: American English. Published: October 15, 2013. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
Leaving the familiar supportive environment of New Orleans after being exposed, Alex takes his mission on the road. Along with the blur of life on a concert tour, there are dark trends as well: Alex is now nationally known, the media is hungry for news and there are multiple people eager to hurt him. As he travels the country, they learn more about him and what drives people to love or hate him.
Racing the Clock
By Vincent Berg
Series: Catalyst, Book 4. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 189,360. Language: English. Published: September 6, 2013. Category: Fiction
(4.00 from 1 review)
Alex seeks to find as many new followers as he can during the limited time he has left, as he comes to grip with the knowledge that his abilities will likely kill him. Before that happens, he hits the road with his sister and an ex-cop serving as a bodyguard. Along the way, they learn much more about him, about his followers, and about leading a mission when one doesn’t know the way.
Normalcy Is Harder Than It Looks
By Vincent Berg
Series: Catalyst, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 242,340. Language: American English. Published: July 30, 2013. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Having wrestled with trying to preserve a 'normal' last few months of high school, Alex faces an even harder time, as not only does he have to explain to those he loves what his life has become, but he faces several people who seem to hate him as much as his followers adore him. What's a confused teenage atheist religious figure to do?
Trying To Be Normal
By Vincent Berg
Series: Catalyst, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 176,360. Language: English. Published: June 26, 2013. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
Having returned from New Orleans with a whole new life, Alex tries to become just a normal young man as he returns to school. Can he blend in for the next two months despite having several women following him around? And will his abilities really be invisible to everyone around him? Book 2 in "The Catalyst" series.
An Unknown Attraction
By Vincent Berg
Series: Catalyst, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 157,580. Language: American English. Published: May 29, 2013. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
A young man suddenly finds women mysteriously attracted to him while visiting New Orleans with his family. He acts as a catalyst, activating strange abilities in them that he doesn't understand. He's not ready for the responsibilities of adulthood, yet he's called upon to lead a string of followers. Where, he has no idea.
Grappling with Survival
By Vincent Berg
Series: Great Death, Book 2. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 172,450. Language: American English. Published: January 25, 2013. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
A Post-Apocalyptic world unlike any other. Instead of banding together or fighting each other, here the survivors find a world with few resources, little trust and no desire to intermingle. Fears of disease prevent survivors from reaching out for help. How does society survive if the survivors won’t participate? Book 2 of the "Great Death" series, but can be read without having read the first.
Love and Family During the Great Death
By Vincent Berg
Series: Great Death, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 220,150. Language: American English. Published: November 18, 2012. Category: Fiction
A man and his daughter drive into a massive meteor shower that disrupts their lives, but it’s only the beginning. It’s the beginning of the end, or is it? An Apocalyptic tale that focuses on individuals trying to maintain love, hope and family amongst death and dying.

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