Chris Hambleton resides in Denver, Colorado where he is employed as a software developer and consultant. He has authored more than a dozen books, as well as developed several websites, software applications, and written software-related articles. His other interests include hiking, studying the Bible, reading American history and politics, along with devouring good fiction books. Recently, he has been learning to enjoy classical music.
What inspires you to write?
My main inspirations are other authors who have written great stories – not necessarily the best-selling authors or books, but the best stories that I can identify with and relate to. There have been several books I’ve encountered where I’ve literally shouted, “I WAS GOING TO WRITE THAT!” and that inspires me to keep pushing. The potential of making money in the book-industry doesn’t really inspire me at all compared to being able to tell a great story (though making some good side-cash would be nice). Ironically, I’ve found that I’m inspired by conflict I read about in the news – particularly in politics. When something really irritates me that I have no control over, I redirect that “inspired irritation” into my stories.
Tell us about your writing process.
Typically, I start with a handful of ideas for a story and weave in an underlying message I want to communicate, such as repentance, forgiveness, etc. From there, I begin adding in the main characters and secondary characters, along with some of the scenes I think would catch the readers’ attention. Then I begin plotting out the book in rough chapters and scenes, and then plug them into the writing software I use – iWriterPro (http://www.iwriterpro.com). I developed this software specifically for writing novels in 2009, and it’s been one of the best investments of my time I’ve ever made.
After I have the first draft or two as an MS (manuscript) in Word/OpenOffice, I begin the revision phase. I print out the book on paper, make sure I have a couple of fresh red pens, and start brutally marking it up – and I do mean brutally. Those changes are then plugged back into the Word manuscript. From there, I upload the semi-finished manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), generate the mobi file, and then download it to my kindle. Then I revise and proofread the book on the kindle, making notes/revisions on paper which are then plugged back into the manuscript. Review, revise, repeat until the book is sufficiently “cooked” and then the final draft of the book is uploaded to KDP and released.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Sometimes I do, though usually not in public. I’m often fascinated by how the characters develop and seem to take on a life of their own.
What advice would you give other writers?
One big piece of advice is to read “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” before writing your manuscript. I found I spent far too much time describing scenes and settings to the reader instead of showing them through the eyes of the characters. I used to have a big issue with “telling” instead of “showing”, which I’m getting better at. The trick of seeing and writing novels from the perspective of a camera was a big help in improving my books.
The second piece of advice would be to not try to get the manuscript perfect during the draft-phase. There’s no such thing as a perfect draft or manuscript, and like bugs in software, there will always be “one more revision.” I find that whenever I encounter something in my work-in-progress that starts to interfere with my flow of thought or writing, I put a TODO note such as “(TODO: fix/add something here!)” and then continue on with writing. This goes for clumsy dialogue, bad beginnings/endings, or anything else that fosters writer’s-block. I will typically have 50-100 TODOs in every draft that I’ll go back and fix later.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I have self-published all my books so I can have complete control over my work — that’s the primary reason. The other reasons are primarily those of time and money – it’s very time consuming to be “traditionally published” and the royalties are much less than for self-publishing (20-25% vs 70%), and far fewer books are sold because of the price difference (~$10-$20 per book vs $2.99). The time and money required to go through the traditional-publishing route is far better spent writing and releasing my books on my own. Also, now that CreateSpace offers Print-On-Demand services with no up-front cost, creating paperback books on my own saves me about $2000 per book in printing/publishing costs.
Writers should be in the business of writing, and self-publishing maximizes the amount of writing I can do, as well as minimizing the hassle, cost, and headaches that come with traditional-publishing. That means I can write more novels/stories per year which helps sell my other titles. The majority of my books are available in the top ebook formats (Kindle, Nook, Kobo), and also paperback books through Amazon.com via CreateSpace.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think book publishing will continue to become more efficient and personal and less corporate. Because of time, costs, and a changing market, the days of traditional publishing are numbered (or at least being squeezed dry). At the end of the day, the fewer people/middlemen between an author and their audience, the better the product will be.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Speculative fiction, political/religious non-fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print