About Nick Vellis:
I’ve always loved to read especially a good mystery, PI story or thriller. I read the Hardy Boys as a young kid, graduated to Agatha Christie, Alistair McLean, Raymond Chandler, Robert B. Parker and all the rest. I now find writing a story with a good mystery is even more exciting. After a thirty-year law enforcement career where I served as an investigator, crime scene analyst and crime prevention officer, I retired as a Captain. I spent several years pitching cutting edge Intelligence analysis software to law enforcement agencies nationwide and overseas. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and raised in South Florida, Fl. I the love of my life in college, married her and thirty years later she’s still my college sweetheart. As a twice retired cop and salesman I spend time with my family in Florida and burn the midnight oil writing mysteries, thrillers and detective stories.
What inspires you to write?
I have always written, short stories mostly, to relax. My careers required me to write structured reports, proposal and news releases so letting the imagination run wild became a way to think about another world. So what inspires me? That’s simple. People in complex situations with no clear answer inspire me. I write stories with people struggling with right and wrong and which they should choose. I enjoy creating complicated characters who are changed by the situations and people around them.
Tell us about your writing process.
Dig Two Graves: Revenge or Honor is my first novel. For my short stories I’ve always done quick, down and dirt outlines to maximize the potential of each word and to insure I included the key emotions and events I wanted in a short. For the novel, planned for 125,000 words, I assumed a detailed outline would be the road to writing nirvana. It was anything but. I spent more time writing and revising the outline than I did putting actual words on the page. I was lost!
I developed an excel spreadsheet to track each chapter with a sentence or two about the chapter’s action, a list of scenes and their locations and the point of view. This got tricky when there was more than one POV in a chapter but it worked. I also tracked chapter and total word count, percent of total word count completed and number of pages. The spreadsheet kept me on track, helped me with my daily word count and inspired to write again tomorrow.
My daily routine consists of reviewing the spreadsheet, light revisions on the previous day’s work to get a sense of where I left off, and then to dive into a new section. I schedule time to write every day even if it’s only for fifteen. Writing is important to me and having a daily appointment with myself insures I have time to do it every day. This is daily time for myself I can’t imagine missing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Initially my characters are like people I’ve just met. I may or may not like them but I interact with them regularly so I get to know them. I do character sketches as living documents that grow as my understanding of the character grows. When I know the character like a good friend or a feared adversary they do begin to talk to me. I don’t have to check the character sketch to know what they will do or say in a given situation and in that sense they determine he direction and content of the story.
What advice would you give other writers?
I received annoying but I think very sound advice. Write something every day and be brutal when you revise it. Read something every day and include things outside your comfort zone to expand your view of the world.
I’ve also found word choice something I must work on. I regularly do crosswords, the Readers Digest Word Power section and read chosen for me by others. When I write I will often Google ‘another word for __________’ in an attempt to vary and expand my word choice
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It took a little over two years, with research, writing and editing, to write Dig Two Graves: Revenge or Honor. About a year into the project I began searching data bases for agents or publishers who represented unknown writers. I sent several hundred query letters. I received a handful of responses and a few requests for sample chapters. Even the sample chapters were eventually declined.
I know now how hard it to be recognized by an agent or publisher. I chose the self publish through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing because I thought I had a good story and it was well written. The only way to get it out was to publish it myself. I don’t have the exposure an agent could provide nor the support even a small publishing house could provide but my story is out there and people are reading it.
I encourage every author to explore every opportunity for an agent and to pitch to publishers large and small. you never know what could happen.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The traditional publishing is missing the boat ignoring the bulk of self published authors. While there’s a lot of poor quality in the indie world, readers select the good material and the others will fall by the wayside. I think, eventually, traditional publishing will recognize their old way of discovering talent is outmoded and will embrace more independent authors.
The future of ebooks is the future of publishing. What device, who makes it, what services are available? These are questions that will shape the future of publishing.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Mystery Thriller, Suspense, military, non fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print