Monday, May 25, 2015

Paul McDonagh, Groundwork

AUTHOR: Paul McDonagh
BOOK TITLE: Groundwork
GENRE: Mystery
PUBLISHER: Lettermore Books

Please tell us about yourself.
I grew up on a council estate in South London, spending the summers in rural Ireland. I began writing fiction seriously after being dismissed from my English Language college course. I now live in Leigh-on-Sea in England.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write part-time. I find that weekends are the easiest time to get the work done. Discipline is essential.

When and why did you begin writing?
I have always made up stories and written them down. For some reason I never grew out of it.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I was interested in the stories of immigrants and the new lives they create. The conflict between the brave new world and the people that are left behind. I wanted to write about how new communities evolve.

What was the toughest criticism given to you?
Dealing with criticism is the hardest part of the publishing process. I received lots of conflicting advice during the editing. The hard part is knowing what to accept and what needs to be ignored.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
The only way to know how to write a book is by doing it. There is a lot of advice out there but you can only learn to structure by doing the work. I am always learning about writing, editing and promotion.

What are your current projects?
I am working through my second novel. After a few false starts I am now getting into it. I had to wait for a story to present itself.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I blog on my website at My Twitter handle is @pgmcdonagh. My Facebook page is

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Groundwork is a mystery book. Gerry Walsh is coming of age with no place to call home. In London, his father dies in mysterious circumstances whilst working for a groundwork contractor. Gerry is left alone and abandoned as he sets out to find the truth. In Connemara, his Uncle Sylvie digs holes looking for the body of his wife. Gerry becomes drawn into the amoral world of his uncle, uncovering family secrets that have been buried. Gerry's involvement in the search for Aunt Beth puts everybody in danger. As events spiral out of control, who can Gerry trust? In the race to find the truth, who will be first?

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Groundwork is set during the economic and political upheaval of the 1990's. I was interested in how these issues affect immigrant families in England and Ireland. I wanted to write about a character who is linked to both communities but does not feel that he belongs in either place.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I just started writing without a plan. At the end of each chapter, I had an idea of how to begin the next. I wanted to put these characters into situations to see how they react.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
I am more interested in the development of characters. The interaction of the characters has to drive the narrative.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The editing process was a lot longer than I had envisaged. I thought the book was nearly finished but there were still a lot of changes needed to make it work.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?
I have just finished Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It is stunning, the best book I have read in years. The characters are memorable and the language is vibrant.

What books have most influenced your life?
My favourite book is Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. The writing is so clever and witty but the book has a real heart of gold. Don Gately is my favourite character in all of literature, his story is heartbreaking and inspirational.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent, The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide

AUTHOR: Joel Friedlander (coauthor is Betty Kelly Sargent, but  Joel is answering the questions)
BOOK TITLE: The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide
GENRE: Nonfiction/Directories/Resource Guides
PUBLISHER: Marin Bookworks

Please tell us about yourself.

I have a long history in graphic arts, design, and book publishing. Many years ago I operated a design business in New York’s Flatiron district servicing the direct response industry. In the 1980s I was working in the book publishing business and decided to self-publish my first book Body Types: The Enneagram of Essence Types because I knew how to publish books and that no traditional publisher would be interested in this niche title. Publishing the book opened up many opportunities for me and gave me a real education in how books are made and sold, and how to sell to a niche market. This proved invaluable when I started my own publishing company, Globe Press Books, where we eventually published about a dozen books before we closed our doors. I then moved to California and started Marin Bookworks, a book design and consultancy in northern California, and which I continue to operate today. These days I write a high-profile blog on book design, production, and the future of the book at, sell predesigned book templates and other tools for authors at, and train authors in the publishing business through an online course given at I’m a past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association and frequently speak to writers and publishers at industry events. I’m also the author of the 2011 book A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I’m a professional blogger and have written over 1,400 articles in the last few years, although in 2014 I began to turn the blog into more of a media site, and content is now created, in addition, by a staff of Contributing Writers. I’ve used my blog articles as the basis for a book and have also put a lot of writing into creating books by writing blog articles. I set aside mornings for writing time and prefer public environments where I can write without the distractions of my office space, and find that a low level of activity—think Starbucks—helps me to focus and be very productive, and I can frequently produce a 1,000 word article or book section in about 40 minutes.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I had been in a group that studied human psychology with unusual tools, and one of those was a system of human typology that I had never run into anywhere else. There was no book on the subject, and I was moved to write one in response to fairly constant requests for information on this typology. I spent a year writing it, then another year researching and writing a second edition, which is still in print today, almost 30 years after that initial publication.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I was completely blocked for many years and didn’t do any writing other than “corporate” writing, which was frustrating. In 2007 I started studying free-writing with writing coach Suzanne Murray, and that changed everything. I learned how to tap into the unending flow of ideas, images, and imaginal worlds that reside just below the level of consciousness, and I’ve never been blocked since. Free-writing is an amazing discipline that many authors could benefit from, and I highly recommend it as a practice.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

Despite the fact that I was working in the publishing industry at the time, I decided to self-publish my first book even though the practice was much more uncommon in the 1980s than it is today. Although I’ve been approached by traditional publishers in recent years due to the popularity of my blog, I haven’t received an offer that offered a better publishing path, so I’ve kept publishing and marketing my own books.

What is your marketing plan?

My marketing revolves around the platform I’ve built in the indie author community since 2009. Through blogging, presenting to trade groups, being active on social media, running free educational events for authors, and aggressively building an email list, I’ve been very lucky to acquire a pretty sizable following and that is at the core of my marketing plan. This network has given me many opportunities to spread the word about my book through guest articles on other blogs, interviews with industry leaders and presentations about the idea behind the book. It has also allowed me to gather almost 150 book reviews by giving away more than 500 copies of the book during our book launch.

What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on a series of tools for indie authors that are designed to take a lot of the mystery, frustration, and unnecessary expense out of creating and marketing indie books. There are over 6 separate projects in process, each being developed in partnership with an industry expert, and I’m very excited about bringing the results of these collaborations to authors in the coming months.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

The best way to find me and find out about new projects, new tools for authors I’m developing, and read really helpful articles on indie publishing is to sign up at my blog for article updates, and that’s at I also offer a free 24-page PDF that’s proven massively helpful to authors thinking about self-publishing, and your readers are invited to get a copy for themselves. It’s called 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing and it’s been downloaded over 25,000 times: I also spend a lot of time on Twitter, where I’m @JFBookman. 

Tell me a little about your book.

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide is a compendium of resources that are useful to authors planning on publishing their own books. It’s divided into three sections—Prepare, Publish, and Promote—and then further into 35 categories so listings are easy to find. All 850+ resources in the book have been curated and verified, and I think it’s going to save authors a massive amount of time and energy sourcing the experts they will need to create a truly professional quality book.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

My coauthor, Betty Kelly Sargent, suggested the topic. When she described it to me, I realized instantly that she had a great idea because no such directory existed. This isn’t too surprising since Betty had a 30+ year career at the top levels of traditional publishing as an editor and executive editor at a variety of publishers.

What types of writing do you prefer, and why?

There are two types of writing that I practice, and enjoy. One is the kind of instructional writing I do on my blog and in recent books. The other is memoir, where I get to look back at my life and gain amazing insights into events in my own past.

What about your book makes it special?

It’s the only resource of its kind for indie authors—there simply isn’t another place where authors can go to access this kind of carefully curated content.

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

They both work. It’s up to you as an author to figure out which one works better for you, and this decision is best made on a book-by-book basis. Some books absolutely require the wide distribution offered by traditional publishing, others don’t and will be much more profitable if self-published. Authors today have the information available to take charge of their own publishing careers, and that’s a fantastic development in my opinion.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?

I’m currently reading In An Unspoken Voice by Peter Levine, a remarkable book about recovering from trauma. I particularly like the author’s personal story, which animates a lot of the book, and his development of a therapeutic modality to treat trauma survivors without re-traumatizing them. What I don’t like is the poor editorial work on the book, which isn’t well targeted to one audience and which contains many simple errors that should have been corrected by any competent editor.

Describe your writing space.

Have you ever been to Starbucks? I write there because it’s more sane than my office, and there are fewer distractions, if you can believe that!

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author?

I was offering some advice to an author at an event at which I was speaking. After thinking about what I had said for a moment, he looked at me and quoted (from memory!) a passage in a book I had written several years ago that contradicted my advice. Ouch!

Book summary:

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide is the first and largest collection of curated and verified resources for independent authors who plan to publish their own books. Produced by a team with long experience in both traditional and independent publishing, the over 850 resources are listed in an easy-to-use format that includes live links, phone numbers, email addresses and brief descriptive copy. The Guide makes vendors and other resources easy to find by separating them into 35 distinct categories within the 3 main tasks the self-publisher must deal with. How to Prepare, Publish, and Promote their books.

Content & Developmental Editors
Copyeditors & Proofreaders
Cover & Interior Book Designers
Image Sources
Book Shepherds & Publishing Consultants
Illustrators & Cartoonists
Writing Software
Writers’ Conferences & Workshops Offering Scholarships
Grants & Funding for Writers
Professional & Trade Associations
Best Books on Writing
Helpful Links

eBook Conversion
Print-on-Demand (POD) Printing & Distribution Services
Subsidy Publishers
Short Run Printers
Book Production Software
Best Books on Self-Publishing

Website Design for Authors
Social Media Consultants
Book Review Services
Author Assistants
Press Release Services & Sources
Best Blogs on Self-Publishing
Book Blog Tours
Marketing & Publicity
Sites to List eBooks
News & Views
eBook Aggregators & Book Distributors
Major Retailers
Writing Contests, Fellowships & Prizes
Book Awards for Self-Published Authors
Consumer Protection

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide ebook version is updated regularly to provide current information and links in the fast-changing indie publishing world, and the authors are actively soliciting input to keep listings current and comprehensive.

Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder of BookWorks, the Self-Publishers association (, and writes a monthly column on self-publishing for Publishers Weekly. She is a member of the Independent Editors Group (IEG) and has spent more than 30 years in the traditional publishing business, most recently as editor-in-chief of William Morrow, where at one point she had three books on the New York Times best-seller list at once. She has also been executive editor at HarperCollins, executive editor at Delacorte Press, Fiction and Books editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, and book reviewer for CNN. She is the author of seven traditionally published books and one self-published book. She moderates panels and workshops in New York City and Los Angeles and is passionate about helping indie authors learn to navigate the ever-changing landscape of self-publishing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Marie Laval, A Spell in Provence

AUTHOR: Marie Laval
BOOK TITLE: A Spell in Provence
GENRE: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
PUBLISHER: Áccent Press

Please tell us about yourself.
I was born and brought up in France, near the beautiful town of Lyon, and came to live in the North-West of England several years ago. I now live in a lovely village in a very green valley (because it rains a lot) and I love it! 

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I would love to be a full-time writer, but I have a day job as a French teacher in a busy secondary school and college, so writing has to wait until I come home at night and complete all my planning and marking, and until the children are in bed, of course.

When and why did you begin writing?
For as long as I can remember I was always writing and making up stories. As a teenager I used to write every night in my journal. Later I wrote short stories, both in French and English but I lacked confidence. When one of my stories was published, another won an award and yet another was short-listed for an international competition, I thought that maybe I could actually write a whole novel in English!

What inspired you to write your first book?
ANGEL HEART was my first historical romance and it will always have a special place in my heart. Believe it or not, I am still completely in love with my hero Hugo Saintclair! ANGEL HEART was published by MuseitUp Publishing in October 2012. I was inspired by my hometown and the area around Lyon, which was always reputed for its mysteries and links to secret societies. I was also fascinated by the history of the Knight Templars.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Although I have made wonderful friends thanks to social media and I do enjoy chatting and exchanging news with my Facebook friends, I do find that promoting takes far too much of my time. I would love to have an agent who would advise me on promotion, and what actually works.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I have writer's block a few times but I know it's entirely my fault, because I am what is called a 'pantser' and always get stuck at some point in a project because I basically have not idea where I'm going! I usually try to leave the story 'rest' for a little so that things can work out without me consciously thinking about them. I find that going for a long walk, alone, works wonders.

What are your current projects?
I am shortly to start editing my third historical romance, DANCING FOR THE DEVIL, which will be released in June by Áccent Press, and I am in the final stages of writing another contemporary romance. I have lots of projects swirling in my mind and can't wait to get started on them!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I have a writer page on Facebook which is
I also have a blog and I do try and post regularly at
I am also on Twitter but I must confess that I very rarely do anything on it!

What genre do you write in and why?
I love romance, so that's what I write. I have so far written and published two historical romances and one contemporary romantic suspense. I also enjoy writing short stories and my latest one was part of a Hallowe'en anthology, SHIVER, which was published by Áccent Press in October 2014.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
A SPELL IN PROVENCE takes place in the Lubéron region, near Bonnieux and Aix-en-Provence. The heroine, Amy Carter has lost her job and decides to start a new life in the South of France. She spends her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a guesthouse, but almost from the day she arrives, strange things happen which hint at a dark mystery surrounding her new home. When she falls in love with Fabien Coste, the owner of a nearby château, she starts wondering if there is any truth in the ancient spell that binds the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste.
What gave you the idea for this particular book?
It was a family holiday in the South of France a few years ago. We visited many towns and villages with very old fountains, and I started thinking of a plot with a 'fountain trail' leading to a treasure or an ancient site...

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I scribble lots of ideas and notes in a notebook so I can have a vague idea of where I am going. However the storyline and characters change and evolve as I write and I am often very surprised by what happens in my stories!

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
I did lots of research about the Salyens, the native Celtic tribes who lived in Provence before the Romans and who had very important settlements in Glanum, for example. Reading about the archeological evidence from their various sites was fascinating and helped me shape the story.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
Keep writing, don't give up no matter what people tell you, and how many rejection letters you receive. It's your dream. It's worth it.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Determined. Hardworking. Kind (I hope!). Honest. Loyal. Loving. Gourmande (that's French for someone who likes cakes and chocolate!)

Describe your writing space. 
A complete mess! I would love to have my own space with an inspiring view but I write on my dining room table, surrounded by my books and notebooks, and my daughter's craft and art material.

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author? 
I haven't had any yet, but that might change very soon because I am doing my very first author talk at  my local library in April and I have visions of myself in a completely empty room...

With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel. Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château.  As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.


Shivering in the cold breeze despite her shawl, Amy joined the guests lining up to be greeted by Fabien, who in true lord of the manor style, stood tall and imposing at the top of the steps, with torches burning on either side of him.
            He might wear a black dining suit and a crisp white shirt instead of a suit of armour, but there was something untamed, fundamentally uncivilized and proprietary about the way he surveyed the crowd – as if he truly owned everything and everyone, like Frédéric had said, and Amy was seized by an irresistible, irrational and overwhelming urge to flee. She didn’t want to speak to Fabien Coste, didn’t want to put up with his arrogant ways. He could keep his fancy chateau, his contacts and glamorous guests, she didn’t need him. She would walk home. It wasn’t that far.
            She was about to step aside when he looked down and their gaze met. Shadows danced on his face. The torches hissed in the breeze, their flames shooting high in the air and reflecting in his green eyes, giving them a deep, dangerous glow. For the space of a heartbeat, the noise of conversations around her became distant and fuzzy, and all she could see was him.
            He walked down, took her hand and lifted it to his lips. Even though his mouth barely touched her skin, a flash of heat reverberated through her body.
            ‘Mademoiselle Carter – Amy, you’re here at last.’
            It was the first time he’d spoken her first name. He made it sound French, sensual and incredibly romantic. Aimée. Beloved.
            ‘Shall I escort you inside and introduce you to a few people?’
            Panic made her heart flutter and turned her brain to mush.
            ‘Well, it’s just that …’
            He arched a dark eyebrow, looked down, and smiled as if he knew exactly what she was feeling.
            ‘You’re here now. You might as well make the most of it.’

Monday, May 4, 2015

Alan Black, Empty Space, #giveaway, #free ebooks

Alan would like to do a giveaway. He is offering the winner their choice of any of my 10 books. Autographed. Second place would be an autographed copy of Empty Space and third place would be their choice of any of my books on e-reader. Please be sure to leave your contact information in your comment.

AUTHOR: Alan Black
BOOK TITLE: Empty Space
GENRE: military science fiction
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace

Please tell us about yourself.
I am a #1 best selling author on Amazon. I am a full time writer devoting 50 - 80 hours a week on writing, rewriting and marketing my books. Fortunately, this is something that I can do from home, so I work (mostly) in my jammies. I will admit that I put on pants when I go out to do a book signing or a speaking engagement.

I have just published a new military scifi novel Empty Space. It is about a young man who is screwed by the very military he has sworn to obey. Disgraced and discarded, the military will soon learn they screwed with the wrong guy. I am also doing a major rewrite on a historical fiction novel The Stolen Prize. It is set in 751CE in and around the Black Sea. Mutiny, murder, and revenge! Plus, (whew!) I have started to write a sequel to my #1 bestselling novel Metal Boxes.

I have 10 books available on Amazon. I believe that word of mouth is the best advertisement possible, but I have to make my books known or they don’t have anything to talk able. So, I promote all 10 all the time.

My business plan gives our vision statement as: “We want our readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of our books. We want our readers amazed we made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. We want to give our readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. We want to offer stories we would want to read.”

Our Mission statement sums up why I write what I write. “Our business is to write top notch imaginative novels of all genres to capture a reader’s attention and enjoyment. We will cater to readers of all ages. We will work to stimulate readers and authors to greater imaginative efforts.”

Please tell us your latest news.
I have just published my tenth book. Empty Space is a military scifi space opera that has been likened to Dexter in space.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a full time writer. As such, I treat writing as a business. That means I have a mission statement, a vision statement, a business plan AND a production schedule with published goals and deadlines.

When and why did you begin writing?
Writing was my first career choice, one that I made when I was in the second grade. However, childhood dreams go the way of monsters in the closet; they are still there, just buried under a mound of dirty clothes, spent hangers and smelly sneakers. After a long series of drudgery-type jobs and more failed novel completion attempts than I can remember, and forty-five years, I decided I was going to write and finish a novel, even if it was never published and no one ever read it. It took me two years to complete the rough draft, writing after work and on weekends. It took another fifteen years of writing and strange bits of publishing before I could leave my job and begin to write, publish, and market full time.

I became an author in 1998 when I finished my first novel ‘Eye on The Prize’ (soon to be re-published as THE STOLEN PRIZE. I became a full time author when I published my seventh novel ‘The Granite Heart’ book two in an Ozark Mountain series. Believe me, I wish I had become a full time writer long before this.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I was reading a history book about the Kzhar Empire between 500 and 1200 AD and how they interacted with the Byzantine and Roman Empires. I thought it would make a good story. And it did.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? 
Reading, TV, Movies, video games…you know…real people stuff.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
It is a tough thing for authors to do. Most of us are not gregarious by nature. But I spend 50% of my day promoting my books. It is a combination of social media, book signings and networking activities. Some helps and some doesn’t. A writer just has to do it all and believe that some of it will stick.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
I have received my share of 1* and 2* reviews. Not everyone likes what I have written. The most often repeated criticism is that my grammar and spelling sucks. Yeah, I know. I’m working on it. My biggest compliment was when I had a reviewer say the following: “The Friendship Stones by Alan Black is one of the most beautifully written tales I have ever read, part historical fiction, part inspirational reading, part coming of age, told through the mind and heart of a twelve-year-old girl, the innocence of youth and the times shines through like a glittering diamond.”

Really! I cut this from her review on Amazon. She is also one of Amazon’s Top Reviewers. Really! I didn’t pay her or nothing like that. I haven’t even met the woman. Honest.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Nope. I write what I write. Well, I did up my editing game, tho’.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Actually, no. My #2 rule to writing is never to stop writing unless my protagonist is in trouble and I have to get them out of it. That pushes me to keep writing, to save my hero.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I have learned that if I can write one, then I can write two, ten or twenty.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
I self publish through CreateSpace. They are an Amazon owned company and very user friendly. It is super easy to find the link to their site at the bottom of every Amazon page and then signing up for an account costs nothing.

What is your marketing plan?
Ooooo! That is way too long to put in here. I suggest that you check my website and read FAQ #10. It has about 30 marketing suggestions for authors.

I follow some of these suggestions and some I haven’t done…yet.

What are your current projects?
I just released EMPTY SPACE. It is a military scifi space opera. That genre doesn't sell as well as romance, but it does have a loyal following. So I am putting extra time into the initial marketing push.

I am editing book 4 in a Christian YA Historical series set in 1920 Ozark Mountains that should be published sometime in May.

I am working with ACX to build the audio book for TITANIUM TEXICANS, a YA space opera that I published last October.

I am writing the sequel to my #1 best selling military scifi METAL BOXES. My wip is at about the 18% mark on the rough draft.

And I am talking with a movie producer and the director on my western novelette A COLD WINTER set in 1890 in North Dakota.

Other than that, I am just goofing off.

What do you plan for the future?
My 2015 production schedule says I have 6 books to publish this year. I have one done, so 5 more this year. Four of the five books already have their rough draft written. 2016 will be cut back to doing only 4 novels, as will each year through 2019, giving me a total of 31 published works. That is a rolling five year plan, but it is susceptible to change.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Twitter: @alblack77
Amazon Author Page:
Any other news you’d like to share?
I will be at the Phoenix ComiCon on May 28 - May 31 with my scifi books and some scifi author friends.

What genre do you write in and why?
I am uni-genre-phobic. I have already published 5 scifi, 1 western, 1 contemporary action/adventure and 3 Christian fiction set in 1920 Ozark Mountains. I have 8 more books that are unpublished and awaiting their turn in the editing/formatting/cover generation pipeline. 3 are scifi, 3 are Christian fiction set in 1925 Ozark Mountains, 1 is The Stolen Prize (historical fiction), 1 is a western and 1 is a non-fiction how-to book.

Having said that, they are not as far apart in genre as they sound. The location changes, not the type of story.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
I am really giving a larger push to Empty Space over my other books. That is simply because it has only been out a little while. I like all of my novels and try to market them equally.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Strangely, it was an episode of Criminal Minds on TV. I thought that just because the future isn’t dystopian, there isn’t any reason to suspect that humans will have learned to identify and treat sociopaths.

Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I started my first novel with an extensive outline. That is what I had been taught. I had been told that was the only way. About halfway through the book, I couldn’t make the story follow the outline anymore and I caught myself spending more time updating the outline than I did writing the story, so I threw the outline away. Now, I know where I am going to start, where I want to go and about how long I want to take to get there. Then I write by the seat of my pants the whole way through.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
I don’t think you can have one without the other. They are the twin pillars of a good story and like twins, must be birthed at the same time, not weeks apart.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
I love LillieBeth Hazkit from An Ozark Mountain Series. She is my mother’s memories wrapped up in my wife’s personality and fictionalized into a strong, young woman. She may only be 12 years old, but in 1920 in the Ozarks a child either grew up fast or she didn’t survive to thrive.

Which characters were the hardest to develop and why?
Often times I have fans and friends who want to see themselves in one of my books. It can be difficult to fit a beautiful young woman into the body of a space marine. Difficult but fun. It is much easier if I am putting in someone that I don’t like, then I can kill them off.

How did you decide how your characters should look?
I only put in physical descriptions that are necessary to move the story alone. Much of the rest I leave to the imagination of the reader.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
No. Violence and sex are a part of the human condition. I have had a few people say the description of torture in Empty Space was more graphic than they wanted to read about, but many more say that it fit the character. You can’t write about prostitution without sex and you can’t write about killer aliens without a little violence.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding where to stop. I envision complete lives for all of my characters, but a novel has to end somewhere.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?
This is a simple question for me. The process is to sit my ever-expanding backside in a chair and type out the stories in my head. I start with an idea. For example, let’s take Mom’s stories of growing up in extreme poverty (I have heard them for the last sixty years-over and over and over again) and fictionalize them to tie them together for a coming of age novel set in the Ozark Mountains. Then I slap together a very fragile and flexible outline. Sitting down at the computer, I slam in the words as fast as my digits can fly. Halfway through a manuscript, the outline goes in the trash as I make it up as I go along. With the Ozark Mountain Series I did have a co-author (Mom) so it was a matter of making her memories fit into the storyline and the storyline fit with her memories.

I do not require quiet. I do not require noise. I am happy facing a window and just as happy to face the wall. I like a messy desk and I like nothing on my desk at all. I prefer snacks while writing and…oops, yeah. I like snacks, okay, so I will buy bigger pants when I write my next novel. The point is that when I am writing, I ‘see’ the landscape and the characters in my head. It is a very clear mental image that I can control and command (oooooo, don’t tell Freud about that, he might make something of it how I don’t control this life, so I make up places that I can command, hmmmm!?) The point is that I write what I see and try to do it in such a manner that my reader can get a similar view.

When I am immersed in this other world, I can usually get down around 950 to 1000 words per hour. So I can write a rough draft of an 80,000 word novel in…well, that is why I write stories since I can’t do math. But, it is quick enough to finish the story before the characters in my other worlds learn that they have the power to rebel against my tyrannical command and control.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
Out now are
CHASING HARPO - contemporary action/adventure/humor
METAL BOXES - young adult, military scifi
THE FRIENDSHIP STONES - (book 1 in An Ozark Mountain Series) young adult, coming of age, Christian fiction
CHEWING ROCKS - science fiction adventure
THE GRANITE HEART - (book 2 in An Ozark Mountain Series) young adult, coming of age, Christian fiction
THE HEAVIEST ROCK - (book 3 in An Ozark Mountain Series) young adult, coming of age, Christian fiction
TITANIUM TEXICANS - young adult, science fiction
A COLD WINTER - a western novelette
EMPTY SPACE - military science fiction
Coming in 2015
(May) THE INCONVENIENT PEBBLE - (book 4 in An Ozark Mountain Series) young adult, coming of age, Christian fiction
(June) THE STOLEN PRIZE - historical action/adventure
(July) THE JASPER’S COURAGE - (book 5 in An Ozark Mountain Series) young adult, coming of age, Christian fiction
(October) THE KING’S ROCK - (book 5 in An Ozark Mountain Series) young adult, coming of age, Christian fiction
(December) METAL BOXES 2 - LOST OUTSIDE - young adult, military science fiction

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
#1 rule of writing fiction: There are no rules to writing. Oh sure, editors have rules, agents have rules, publishers have rules, booksellers have rules, and even readers have rules. But, write what you want and how you want. You will be happier for it, even if you have to make a few changes later to make everyone else happy.

#2 Never quit writing unless your protagonist is in trouble. This will help you avoid writer’s block and help you get back to writing. 
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favorite part about being a writer is that I can get up whenever I want to and wander down the hallway in my jammies to go to work. If I want to stop and take a break, I do. No one says anything if I set a soda next to my keyboard.

Of course, my least favorite part of being a writer is that marketing thing. Gaaak!

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author?
I always feel embarrassed when I tell an aspiring author that I won’t read their book. Yes, I want to help others to finish their books and get published, but I run a pretty tight schedule. Reading and criticizing someone else’s work takes time, effort and an emotional tole. I also don’t want to hurt their feelings and tell them that it is crap and to go back and rewrite. I can be a harsh judge of half-finished work.

Empty Space synopsis.
York August Sixteen was abandoned as a baby, abused and molested as a child, beaten and harassed as a teen, and had his rightful place in the Republic’s Space Navy stolen from him. Fighting back against huge government systems was useless. Dispensing justice on an individual case-by-case basis was more to his liking, yet even that was taken away when he was stationed on a lonely communication space station. York’s life would change when he decides to seek justice for people even less fortunate than him.