As far back as I can remember, I have been an avid reader. I had not considered writing my own story, though, until high school; and that was a two-page affair I typed up on my father’s Underwood manual typewriter by the hunt-and=peck method. I remember I was so proud of that first “short story”, so I showed it to my father. His exact words were, “It’s a good story. Now put some meat on it.” To me, at the time, that was extremely high praise. Normally, my parents gave me the “hundred and one” reasons why I “couldn’t do it”, whatever “it” was at the ti time that I wanted to do. But this time, he had actually encouraged me! So I set about turning that into something longer. By the end of my senior year in high school, that two-page skeleton had become a hand-written manuscript that, when entered into my new computer, equaled thirty-nine pages. But there it sat for the next twenty two years. I had not thought I could get it published.
So, forsaking that dream, I went on to put my energy into what was considered “gainful” employment. I have, in that vein, done everything from cleaning at McDonald’s to having a very tiny home-based business where I taught people how to use computers (though this was very basic skills). Needless to say, my failure to keep any of these jobs only served to convince me that my parents were right, and I “couldn’t do it”, so there the manuscript sat.
In late 2011, I finally took it out and completely rewrote it. I ignored the previous version of it and simply used the concept of it for the new version. That version was 76 pages and published in print-on-demand by Lulu.com (you can still get it that way too). It was not much, but it was a beginning, and it showed me I could indeed “do it”. So in mid-2012, when I found out that the author themselves could publish on Kindle, I re-published that novella on Kindle. Then, later that year, I added a second book, this one a full-length novel.
I have reclaimed the dream.
What inspires you to write?
In the beginning, it was a way to escape the oppressive home environment. Now, I find myself inspired by everything from TV shows (I envision how the episode should end or how I could change the sequence of events) to other books. I find endless inspiration in the imaginations of others, by giving me images in my mind that I can expand into stories.
Tell us about your writing process.
My first two works (the novella and the novel) were done by pantsing. I had a concept in my head and simply wrote until it reached a point that I felt was an ending. With the next one (currently in process), I am trying the planning/outlining method. Being almost obsessively organizational, I think I will, in the end, become a combination of both methods.
For the novella, I had character sketches, if you can call them that. They were basically written descriptions of what the characters were (their job, basic personality, etc.). For the novel, I had none written, but had them in my mind as I wrote. For this new undertaking, I do have sketches as part of the initial creation process prior to writing.
The first two works were simply written in Word and then converted by Amazon’s converter (though that requires prior conversion to HTML format). This new work, I am using Dramatica Pro to do all the outlining and prep work prior to the actual writing. It is very thorough and walks you through the steps, explaining everything on the way. Definitely, it is something I recommend for novice writers who want to use the outlining method.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
In an odd way, I do. Sometimes, I carry on whole conversations with them in my mind. I have found that they do exactly what they want, regardless of what I want them to do in order to further the story. I have tried to ignore them and make them do what I want, but it just comes out flat and lacks the emotional quality that makes readers want to read. So I tend to converse with them, find out what story they want me to tell and try to build that.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. If you truly want to be a writer, do it. For years, I let my parents’ discouraging words, haunt me, and I wasted so much time avoiding something that I truly loved to do. Don’t make my mistake. Follow your heart, and achieve your dreams.
And on a more concrete note, do your research. Don’t jump in blindly; that always ends badly.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My research told me that the self-published author, if he can get enough sales, has a higher profit potential than the traditionally-published author since the traditionally-published author generally never sees any money for his books beyond that ititial advance. Also, it gave me more control over the project to publish myself.
My advice is to figure out what your skills/abilities are and where your weaknesses are. For example, I cannot do cover art, so I have to hire for that. If you have the skills/ability to perform all the functions that traditional publishers take care of for you (or at least many of them), then self-publishing might be for you, though you should still consider using beta readers to give you honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t in a story.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
We live in a digital age rife with the need/desire for instant gratification. Why go to a bookstore, find a parking space, spend an hour or more looking through the shelves for one book, then stand in line to buy it when you can go to your Kindle or other e-Reader, go to their shop, and type in a couple of search words to find just the right title for you and download it? The latter takes minutes, and that suits the shorter attention spans of today’s buyers. Therefore, I think that, while print books aren’t dying, the e-Book is becoming more and more preferred. And even for print books, things are leaning more toward the print-on-demand venue.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Science Fiction, Science Fantasy
What formats are your books in?