Everything I need to know, I have learned through my 400 jobs. OK, that’s not quite right, but when I look at my long and varied resume, my first thought would be “Hey! That guy can’t keep a job!”
I have been a door to door salesman numerous time, which is, sadly, a profession that is disappearing from our landscape. I started by selling greeting cards, Grit Magazine and vegetable seeds door to door and eventually graduated to Cutco Cutlery and Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. I learned several thousand life lessons knocking on people’s front doors.
In addition to that, I have been a crab fisherman in the Bering Sea, a retail manager and department store buyer, a radio station DJ and Program Director, a video store manager, a management consultant, a vocational school teacher, and a traveling t-shirt salesman for the Unlimited Hydroplanes.
As much life-uncertainty as that list exemplifies, I have settled down and been a Real Estate Broker in a small town south of Seattle for the last twenty years.
I am married to Dawn, the girl I have loved my whole life. Although we first met in high school, I am now in my fifties and she is still the beautiful young girl she was when we first met. Dawn and I share our house with our two chocolate labs, Sadie and Hershey and our Flame Tip Siamese, Buddha.
What inspires you to write?
So many things.
My first book was initially inspired by the pain I was feeling. I had been in love with the same girl all my life, but hadn’t seen her in 30 years. I began writing Feels Like the First Time to try and find out what had been going on in my life in the late 1970’s that allowed me to feel so much. Through the process of writing the book, I reconnected with that girl, and now she is my wife.
Sometimes, though, I just write what I want to read. My current work-in-progress is a book called Rock ‘n Roll Heaven. It was inspired by reading a Stephen King novella called You Know They Got a Hell of a Band from his book Nightmares and Dreamscapes. As I started reading that story, I had a sudden hunch exactly how the story should go. In the end, it didn’t go the way I had envisioned at all, which was fine – that was Mr. King’s story that he wanted to write. At the same time, I knew that the story I had created – about a small time guitarist who dies and goes to Heaven, where he meets Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, et al – needed to be told as well.
Tell us about your writing process
I am neither an outliner nor a seat of the pants writer. I am a ruminator. Once I conceive of the basic story I want to create, I like to live with it for a while, let it rattle around inside my head and grow wings of its own. Once that happens, the writing part is fairly easy.
I have probably a dozen stories “ruminating” in my head right now, waiting to see which one comes up next to be written.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My Grandma Coleman always told me I had two ears and one mouth, so I should use them in that ratio and listen at least twice as much as I talk. So, in that vein, I like to sit back and see what my characters want to do. Sometimes this can be very frustrating, because I might need them to do something to advance the plot but they steadfastly refuse to do it. If I try to force it, it never turns out well and I can always hear them saying “told ya so” in my head.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write, and don’t let any one discourage you. I always remember what Richard Bach (author of Illusions and Jonathan Livingston Seagull) said: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
As a very young writer, I shared an early manuscript with someone whose opinion I trusted. His response was not positive (to put it kindly) and I let that stop me from writing for over 20 years. Those lost writing years are my fault, not his. I asked for his opinion and then reacted to it.
So, my best advice is, “Don’t let anyone take your dream away.”
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was initially only interested in traditional publishing. By the time I finally finished my manuscript in the spring of 2012, everything had changed. The gatekeepers of traditional publishing were gone, and the gates were thrown wide open to us all.
I decided to not even bother with the query/submission merry go round. Instead, I focused on the challenge of learning the publishing business. I spent a few months interviewing editors, proofreaders, cover artists, layout artists, etc. The people that I chose to work with now make up my core team going forward. I owe them a lot of loyalty, because on the first book, they weren’t just doing what I hired them to do, they were also educating me about the process.
I’m not saying I would never be interested in talking to a publisher, but it would have to be the right scenario. The typical “Here’s a $5000 advance for your 100,000 word novel, now sign all your rights away” type of contract will never fly with me now. I’m starting to see hybrid contracts now once a writer becomes successful enough on their own where the writer retains the e-book rights, but sells the print rights to a publisher. That makes sense to me, because physical books is what they’re good at. Selling e-books, really, isn’t.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I feel so fortunate to be publishing at this time. With a little hard work and research, the whole world is open to you as a writer, whether you have a track record or a platform, or not.
I am hearing noise about the fact that e-book popularity has peaked, and I think that’s nonsense. Does anyone really believe that we’ll still be selling more paper books than we are e-books in ten years? I certainly don’t.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Memoir, Romance, Contemporary Fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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