Chris Beakey has been INTERVIEWED!!!

chris-beakey-author-photo1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My Twitter handle is @beaks318. Everyone can find me on Facebook, which is where I spend more time. I post my short stories and review books at my blog, located at blog.chrisbeakey.com. I LOVE hearing from readers, who can email me through my Web site at http://www.chrisbeakey.com.

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I play a lot of tennis, spend time on the beach (swimming and reading there in the summers and walking it other times of the year) . . . I also enjoy spending time with my friends and neighbors in the small town by the ocean where I live.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil . . . I think I wrote my first story in third grade. It was a spellbinding masterpiece about a treasure chest in an attic, with a ghost, which no one else would have ever thought of .

That’s actually partly true. I always wanted to tell stories, and was encouraged from my earliest years by teachers and my family. I didn’t foresee a clear path to success until my second year of college though. I was studying Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University, preparing for a career in public relations because it would give me the opportunity to write for the mass media. I’d been writing fiction for awhile – essentially learning how to do it by doing it.

In my junior year I won a short story competition. In my senior year I wrote a comedic novella, in the style of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series, about campus life. It was published as a serial in the school paper. They were minor successes, but they showed I had the potential to shape a very small amount of talent and a very large amount of ambition into work that people would enjoy reading.

I decided then that I’d have a traditional career in media and would write fiction in my free time. For 20 years I woke up at 4:30 every morning so I could write for a couple of hours before heading out to the gym and then to my often-grueling day job. I wrote three novels that I couldn’t sell.

Something interesting happened shortly after I turned 40 though. I looked back at the failures in those books and admitted to myself that I’d been writing stories that I believed would be commercially marketable. Stories that were well-constructed, descriptively written, and safe from offending anyone in any way.

Since it hadn’t worked, I decided to try something different. I decided to write about my most visceral emotions and fears, without worrying about whether anyone would be bothered by what I wrote. I’d spent a lot of time as a mentor to at-risk kids, and had loved and worried about my sister’s kids as if they were my own. There had been countless moments when I’d imagined something happening to them – it was the kind of thing that would hit me in the middle of the night and keep me wide-eyed awake until the morning. I felt deep rage every time I read or watched a story about a child being abducted or abused, and actually thanked God often for the safety of the kids around me while questioning how God could allow any kid to suffer.

So I went there – to that dark, scary place in my mind. The result was Double Abduction, published in hardcover by J. Boylston & Company. It’s a thriller about Michael Bennett, a 25-year-old gay preschool teacher who becomes the lead suspect in the abduction of his beloved 5-year-old nephew – a case eerily similar to the abduction and murder of his other nephew 5 years before. The story takes place over 48 hours, which is how much time Michael has to rescue his nephew. That’s the “thriller” element.  The deeper story is about redemption – as Michael descends into Hell for the second time to save his nephew’s life and restore his good name.

It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. It sold well, especially in libraries, despite being published by a small but earnest publisher that couldn’t really compete with the big houses. Half of my friends who are parents loved it because it was based on their worst fears. The other half of my friends who are parents couldn’t read it because it was based on their worst fears. In an ironic way I consider that a victory, because it made an impact.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

There’s a writer named John Farris who’s always been a mystery to me. He began writing slim crime paperbacks in the early 1960s, He evolved into a writer of paranormal/horror stories that literally pulsed on the page. He had his first hit with The Fury, about a psychic teenager who has to battle a secret government agency to save the life of her twin brother, an even more gifted psychic who’s been kidnapped so that he can be trained to be a government weapon. The book was made into a well-regarded movie by Brian DePalma. I’ve read it about four times . . . and if I live into my 70s I’ll probably read it at least three more times.

I’ve had similar reactions to John Farris’ other works. They’re stories about people who appear to live ordinary lives but who are challenged by their psychic sensitivities and abilities. His best stories are like the best stories by Stephen King and Richard Matheson – they’re far more “literary” than most snobs would admit. And completely real.

There are so many other writers who inspire me – including current greats such as Lisa Unger, Gillian Flynn, Joseph Finder, Harlan Coben, Jeffrey Stephens, Jordan Dane, John Lescroart, Peter Swanson, Norb Vonnegut, Neely Tucker, Greg Hurwitz and Lee Child (because there are days when I sorta’ wish I was Jack Reacher).

But when it comes to material I have to say it all does emanate from my own life experiences. Emotional triggers. Scary thoughts. Good people winning against more powerful bad people. And redemption – something that seems to be part of almost everything I write.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…fatal-option-cover

I’m about two-thirds of the way through my next thriller: Double Death. It’s about a psychic in the witness protection program who keeps outsmarting the bad guys who keep finding her. She also has $15 million in a Swiss bank account and an epileptic teenage nephew who depends on an illegal drug to stay alive. The other main character is Washington, DC police officer Gloria Towson, who helped Michael Bennett rescue his nephew and clear his name in Double Abduction.

I also write short stories and post them at www.blog.chrisbeakey.com.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I write very, very detailed outlines, but I always begin with a 2-3 sentence description/understanding of what the story is about. Fatal Option, for example, was always about a good man who does a bad thing for the best possible reasons – and then has to defy the law to try to get away with it and keep his family together. Double Abduction was always about a good guy living as a suspect in a child abduction who can only clear his name by rescuing another child. Double Death is likewise about a woman who’s effectively held captive by the U.S. Marshals until she can destroy the evil people who made her a captive.

Once I come up with that concise idea of the story I spend months in a stream-of-consciousness plotting mode . . . thinking about characters and scenes and even bits of dialogue that will move the story forward. I learned long ago that the best way to defeat writer’s block is to begin with this stream-of-consciousness approach because it frees me to be creative without boundaries.

But then I get very serious . . . whittling down that stream-of-consciousness outline to something much closer to a blueprint.

Then I start writing. And keep about half of what’s in that blueprint. It’s frustrating when scenes that seemed to work on the blueprint don’t work once you write them – and exhilarating when a scene takes flight  on a slightly different path than you forecasted.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I’ll describe my weakness first. I’m not very smart. Not very talented. Didn’t attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop or obtain an MFA from American University or the University of Virginia or any of those other smart-people schools that field the writers who are selected by the literary journals. I’m too emotional, and too fixated on writing stories driven by people who are likewise emotional due to the terrifying situations they’re thrust into. And I’m simple. I don’t ever want my stories to be the kinds of works that have to be “analyzed” in order for people to determine what they’re about. You should always know what my story is about by the time you finished it. If not, I probably screwed up. I like stories with beginnings, middles and ends. And I’m especially happy when people tell me they came close to crying – or cheering as they read.

In terms of strengths, I’m always honest. I tell truths as I see them. And I always write about things that hit me in a visceral way . . . and always work to become better at this.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I love people but am pretty introverted – if I go to a party I’ll typically end up talking to a librarian or a bartender or anyone who engages me in an interesting one-on-one conversation for most of the night. I think I’m pretty good at describing my work but I am very uncomfortable promoting it. Fortunately I’m working with a team of AMAZING people at Smith Publicity. They all read Fatal Option before agreeing to promote it, and from there they mounted a campaign that I’m especially comfortable with, which is driven by getting the Advance Reading Copies into the hands of everyday thriller readers and book bloggers.

These are the people I want to relate to – because after spending so many years inside my head writing I now want to know how people react to this story. I love this strategy. It’s not flashy. But it connects me to the readers, who matter most to me.

One tip I have is to find other people who have done this well and try to learn from them. And don’t try to do it on your own. There are zillions of books published every year. There are some that are truly amazing that no one ever hears about . . . and some that aren’t amazing at all that get far more attention because they’re pushed big time by the big time publishers that acquired them. The book marketing landscape truly is a jungle, with bamboo spikes growing out of the ground and snakes dropping out of trees underneath beautiful sunsets that prod you onward. You probably won’t get through it without someone to guide you all the way.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Try to figure out what makes you cry. Or laugh. Or lie wide-awake at night. Think about the most emotional moments of your life. Think about the most compelling people in your life. Draw from those experiences. If you do you’ll probably write better, and produce more.
  • Once you figure out which genre you want to write in, read as much work as you can from that genre. Learn from the masters. Emulate what you feel they do best while sticking to your unique voice and style.
  • Set aside time every day to write. This is so important – at least it is to me. I’ve met so many people who have told me “I always wanted to write a book” or “I have a great idea for a book” or “someday I’ll write a book.” Most of them don’t actually spend any time writing. I sympathize completely, because they’re typically people with demanding jobs, commutes back and forth to those jobs, and family responsibilities. But if writing is really important to you, you need to find a certain time of day when you can focus on it.

The best time of that day for writing is probably linked to your body clock. I’m a day person – I like to get up early, and am most creative in the first two hours after I’ve awakened. Other people are at the other end of the spectrum. They have to stay up late and can’t write until after 9 or 10 at night. You need to figure out where you are on that spectrum . . . and then you need to try and set aside at least an hour every day to devote to your writing. Consistency is important; I think we need these routines. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to write every day for decades before I sold my first novel. I then went to a demanding 10-hour a day job. I gave up a lot to do this. Stopped going out after work. Spent my evenings reading great books instead of watching TV. And spent lots of time going to writers conferences, interacting with agents and editors, and dealing with moments of validation and rejection. There were so many reasons to think I’d never succeed, but nothing could stop me. That’s the attitude shared by most successful writers.

The last thing I’ll say on this is to be easy on yourself. Editors, agents and readers can be harsh. New York City can be harsh. Librarians, though, are basically never harsh. They love writers and live their professional lives to create places for reading, introspection and creativity (so you really should get to know a librarian or two). Don’t dwell on the rejection letters. But do read the work of other writers – both published and aspiring – and engage in good dialogue with them. We’re all part of a community. We need to support each other.

Jack Winnick has been INTERVIEWED!!!

headshots-0051. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Jack Winnick. I can be found on my Facebook page or at jackwinnick.com.

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?I’m an avid reader and probably read four to five hours a day, everything from the news to classics to modern fiction. Actually, everything but “romance” novels. I also watch lots of movies, mostly foreign films. They tend to be more interesting, less predictable, and more insightful than the Hollywood stuff. I like to work out and play tennis (though not well). Fortunately, here in southern California, we can be outside almost every day.
  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.I started writing technical articles and books as an engineer and college professor. I had also been steadily writing Op-eds for magazines and newspapers about important technical matters, like nuclear weapons, energy, and the environment, where I found that the journalists typically had no expertise on technical issues. But then, ten years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction based on the Middle East situation, since this is the topic I most like to read about.
  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…I most enjoyed reading realistic spy stories, like the work of Graham Greene and the early books of John Le Carre’. I decided to write something I thought I would enjoy reading.
  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…I quit writing technical articles and books and now focus almost entirely on fiction. I’m currently working on the next episode of Lara and Uri in their fight against international terror. I do, however, still write the occasional editorial about the Middle East situation.
  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in DIFC-BookCover5.5x8.5_BW_300-f3head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?That’s a tough question. Yes, I focus on one idea for a book at a time. It takes me a very long time to complete a novel, usually three years. I do start with an idea and the characters and flesh it out as I go. I do try to stick with an outline, but I find I often stray off as more interesting situations arise as the characters interact. The book then tends to “write itself.”
  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?My strength lies in my technical and political knowledge. I write what I know about. And if I don’t have complete knowledge of the subject, I do research. This is what happens when you’re a professor, especially in a technical field. You want to be accurate. That’s why it takes me so long to write a novel.
  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?It’s a tough world out there for writers. If you have a friend who works for a publishing house or knows a good agent, you have an enormous head start. My advice is to find an agent before you even think about writing.
  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?Write something small first, something you are really an expert on or comfortable writing about—hopefully both. Then try your hand at selling it yourself. Finally, try a marketing agency.

Jack Winnick received his M.S. and PhD. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and has held several prestigious positions in the field, including working as an expert consultant at the NASA Johnson Space Center and as a Professor of Chemical Engineering at several universities. He has also been a Middle East scholar for over forty years, traveling to the area for the State Department for the purpose of technology transfer to the Arab nations, and cooperation between Israel and Egypt. A strong advocate for the State of Israel, Winnick holds memberships in AIPAC, Zionists of America and American Friends of Magen David Adom.

For more information, please visit http://www.jackwinnick.com and connect with Winnick through Facebook.

Devil in False Colors is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

E.C. “Redge” Hanes has been INTERVIEWED!!!

redge-hanes1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

E.C. “Redge” Hanes. My Web site is www.echanes.com and you can find me on twitter @redgehanes and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hanesec

2.      Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

First would be fly fishing followed at some distance by orchid propagation. Wing shooting is also a contender and in my younger days polo was a prime hobby. The stitches and broken bones slowed me down on this one so I took up golf…still hitting a white ball off the grass but it’s sitting still and I’m not going twenty miles and hour.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

    I have been writing for seventeen years and have written fiction [ novels and short stories, essays and mediocre poetry.

  2. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

Other authors who have shown me how to translate life stories to the page.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…justice

I am writing a novel which reconnects with William Bowater twenty five years after the end of my first book. It serves as a final chapter in Billy’s search for truth and self understanding.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

    I decide what story I am going to tell and who is the best person to tell it. Sometimes, as in Justice By Another Name, the narrator is an unidentified third person, the omniscient observer. Other times I let my main character tell their story. I decide what the action is that will carry the story and do a preliminary outline; however as I write, certain characters become more real to me while others shrink away. I get to know my characters as I go along.

  2. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

    A friend and fellow author once wrote a blurb for one of my books in which she said,” you can write scenes like a son of a bitch.” I’ll consider that as a testament to my main strength as a writer. Weaknesses are legion but not glaring.

  3. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

    The first thing I do is hire a good publicist. The second thing is to listen to them. The last thing of late is to get someone who understands and can navigate the less than wonderful world of social media.

  4. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Don’t think you’re going to make a living writing, so do it because you love the process while holding on to the myth that you will make a lot of money.

 

Rich Garon has been INTERVIEWED!!!

rich-garon1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Rich Garon. My website: www.richgaron.com . No blog yet.
Twitter : @rich_garon
Facebook: facebook.com/Rich-Garon

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

    I play the drums, play a little guitar, and watch my grandchildren
  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

My job on Capitol Hill involved a lot of writing. While up there, I also wrote my dissertation for my doctorate. I completed three manuscripts after I retired and put them away, until last year when I finished watching my grandchildren full-time. I decided to get Felling Big Trees professionally edited last year. It’s a novel about a congressman and his life after he leaves office. I decided to donate proceeds from the sale of the book to WhyHunger, a non-profit in New York City that I have worked with for quite some time. As you’ll see from my website, my theme is writing for change—in this instance, hunger. In the future, the other manuscripts could focus on other issues, such as homelessness. It’s an attempt to raise awareness to some of the critical problems we face as a society.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

At the time I began writing these novels, I was reading a lot of John Irving and Stephen King. Their novels have great character development and what can be quirky plot lines. My time on Capitol Hill and how lives are lived there also had a significant impact on me.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

felling-big-trees-book-coverI’ve just finished an article about Christmas in a homeless camp and am also beginning to review/edit my earlier manuscripts. I had earlier finished an obit-in-waiting for my former boss on Capitol Hill, who died on December 17. I also prepared remarks, which was really tough for his wife to use at his service.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I used a trifold, one of those large cardboards you use for a science project, for my first novel to develop characters, plots lines, settings, etc. I came across it the other day, and I had forgotten how many papers and post-its I had attached to that board.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength?

I’m most pleased with the way I develop characters.

Your weakness? Trying to find the best way to tell the reader just enough without having my thoughts interfere with their ability to form their own conclusions. I believe I’m getting better at it.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

This being my debut novel, I’ve tried to read as much as possible. I’ve learned a lot along the way and that things don’t always go according to what you’ve read. I’ve tried to be patient and flexible.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Something a well-known author told me when I first started: Never Give Up. I have that email taped above my desk.

Continue following the Felling Big Trees blog tour tomorrow with BookMarketingBuzzBlog!

David J. Castello has been INTERVIEWED!!!

david-j-castello1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook
David J Castello
www.DavidJCastello.com

www.facebook.com/DavidJCastelloAuthor

2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I love to play my drums. It’s a wonderfully physical departure from writing. I also love to travel. All of my grandparents are from Italy and I’ve been there and throughout Europe many times. I believe that travel nurtures the soul.

 3. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I wrote my first newspaper story when I was eleven about a Civil War slave cemetery in the South (yes, I was a strange child) and I began excavating Indian mounds when I was thirteen and wrote extensively about that, too. Today, my brother and I manage an internet network with names like Whisky.com, Bullion.com, Kennel.com, Nashville.com, etc. I’ve written numerous articles for all of those sites covering a wide variety of topics.

 4. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

There are two writers who made an early, profound impact on me: Walter Lord (A Night To Remember – 1955) and William L. Shirer (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – 1960). I loved both of those books so much that they made me want to write. Travel has also influenced my writing. I’ve toured the US and the UK playing drums in rock groups and I’ve spoken at internet conferences about internet marketing in the US, Canada and South America. Every person, place and culture I’ve encountered has influenced my writing in some way.

5. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

When I began answering these questions I was in the midst of writing an update about a strange email I received from a World War Two veteran over fifteen years ago.  I finished the story and The Daily Beast published it:
www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/07/the-man-who-tried-to-stop-pearl-harbor.html

6. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do thediaryofanimmortal-frontcoveryou focus on just one at a time?

An idea will pop in my head that motivates me to write and I’ll hit the ground running. That’s how I began writing my debut novel, The Diary Of An Immortal (1945-1959). I had this freakish dream, woke up and thought, “What was that all about?”  Once I have that spark, I’ll completely immerse myself as long as it’s moving in a direction I feel passionate about. There has to be passion. Lots of it. That’s the fuel that feeds my creative fire.

7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I believe my strength is that I can easily slip into this twilight zone state-of-mind where I’m actually there in the moment with the characters in my book. I’m with those people. I’m in that year. I’m in that place. My weakness is that I tend to get emotionally attached to them. I guess you can also say that’s a strength, but sometimes it can be very taxing.

8. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

My experience with internet marketing has been helpful. There are a lot of charlatans out there and I know what is effective and what is a waste of time. I have many writer friends and I try to steer them in the most productive marketing direction possible. I believe we are all in this together. I also believe your book is your baby. Be proud of your work. It can be quite contagious. You never know who is eavesdropping on your conversation.

9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Never try to write a book. Simply tell a story that you feel is so compelling that it will make the reader care.

Jax Anderson has been INTERVIEWED!!!

  1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Jax Anderson Twitter: @JaxDAnderson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SemiViral

Instagram: jaxandersonauthor

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

Aside from writing, my passion is fitness, anything from mixed martial arts, Spartan races, and just lifting weights. Everyday exercise and writing have been my two methods of escaping my own head.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I started writing stories in the seventh grade. I remember having a dream about myself raising a dragon for war and just started typing what I could. I’ve spent a lot of time writing teen fiction, short stories, poems, dramas, and even touched on writing some romantic comedies.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

The greatest influence to my writing was definitely my teenage lifestyle. I personally was institutionalized first for a suicide attempt, then again after a severe assault against me by a local group of kids. I battle each and everyday with my PTSD and depression as a result of the bullying, but I have taken control of these disabilities and I try to map out just how I and many of my friends battled depression and bullying through my characters. Specifically Shaylee and Kel, but in reality most each of these characters suffered to an extent.

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series and the way he developed his characters through his books inspired me to map out my real experiences in fiction where children and teens could easily relate to these fictional characters and my experiences represented by them.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…semiviral-by-jax-anderson-1943955794

Currently I am working on a few projects. First and foremost, the sequel to SemiViral. I am continuing the adventure of Mathew Stemp and his crew as his story gets even more intense.

I am also working on a few short stories that address common struggles amongst young adults, such as depression and social anxiety, in a way that feels raw and honest but also provides a sense of hope.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

Over the years I have begun to write quick outlines for each project idea I get before any of the raw ideas are lost. I then try to write the first chapter quickly after that. I often try to focus on one project at a time. However, I always write down outlines for any ideas that come up. If I find myself with writer’s block, I will write on another project while going through the exercises to beat the block.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I believe my biggest strength in my writing is my ability to debate with myself. I write with characters who don’t see eye to eye but believe passionately in their beliefs. In order to do that, I have to be open minded enough to write believable arguments from each side and research topics that might actually make me uncomfortable to think about. I work hard in my writings to bring out both the worst and the best personality traits I’ve seen in people.

I think my greatest weakness might be that I am a young writer and struggle with my own confidence. Staying motivated to write and continue to work full time to provide for my family while still meeting my writing goals is very difficult. My writing, however, is important to me and I force myself to try new marketing strategies and go speak publicly to build my confidence as a writer.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

The most important thing I have learned on this journey with SemiViral is to research marketing and get involved in the marketing plan. Nobody can sell your book like you can. Any author should start locally by meeting other authors and seeking their advice from both good and bad experiences, introduce yourself to the libraries and bookstores, and create a budget. You will need to invest in yourself; whether it is money or time and effort, you must be ready to invest in yourself because your readers won’t just magically know who you are or start reading your book. Make sure you get out in the world, meet people who read, and make yourself known.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

The best advice I can give to an aspiring writer is: writer’s write. That means you schedule time to write and you write something. That hardest time I had was finding the time to write but if I wanted to finish the novel I had to write. Even when I struggled with writer’s block, I would still sit at the computer during my scheduled thirty minutes and if I couldn’t think of the next thing to write, I would skip a scene and come back to it or begin reading from the beginning of my story to seek inspiration from previous text.

Continue to follow the SemiViral blog tour tomorrow at BookMarketingBuzzBlog!

Jax Anderson got his start in writing when he began keeping a journal as a kid. After finding his life was pretty embarrassing, he switched to fiction. SemiViral began when he discovered many individuals in his personal life were intolerant people. Without calling them out individually, he wrote a book with cannibal style living flesh eaters, prostitution, drugs, and Mormons to address what he had been seeing his whole life in a neutrally opinionated manner. Anderson resides in Colorado with his wife and young daughter.

For more information, please connect with Jax Anderson on Facebook and Goodreads.

SemiViral is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Green Ivy Books.

 

CieCie Tuyet Nguyen has been INTERVIEWED!!!

headshotWhat’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Tuyet Nguyen. However, I use the pen name CieCie Tuyet Nguyen. It is always tricky to tell a Vietnamese name to an English-speaking person as the pronunciation is strange. Vietnamese names are so different and I am used to being mispronounced. That’s why I chose the pen name CieCie (pronounced See See) It’s supposed to be easy to pronounce and remember.

I am illiterate to social media. Apart from a few email and Facebook accounts, I have nothing else. Believe it or not, I only had my first email account in late 2006! I am in the process of learning how to start a blog and hopefully it will be ready and running soon.

https://www.facebook.com/Shock-Peace-The-Search-for-Freedom-1013922265311759/?ref=bookmarks

Website: http://shockpeace.tateauthor.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDYq6HVCC_o&feature=youtu.be

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

My hobbies are changing over time, there are too many to count! At the moment, I am enjoying gardening most because it is now spring time in Australia. The weather is quite weird lately as the temperature fluctuates a great deal from one day to the next, but it is spring nevertheless. I love being in the garden first thing in the morning to catch that fresh air and see those first few rays of sunshine, or to observe the leaves, the flowers waking up and full of life after the dark night. Sipping my cup of coffee and slowly walking round the pots and plants, inspecting for sights of insect infestation in the vegetable patch, picking dead leaves off the roses, admiring the pleasant daisies or sorting over the disputes with the caterpillars and snails in my rows of herbs and spices are the highlights of my day.

I also love being in my garden sipping a glass of wine, munching a few nuts, some chips or a bit of cheese after work. To put it a bit more poetically, the fragrance at night has a different texture than the morning one. It is less translucent and more mystified. If being in my garden give me a joire de vivre to start a day, then being in the garden at night give me a feeling of calmness, letting go of my weariness, and a sense of curiosity of how my next morning is going to be.

Walking in the park in the morning is another hobby. I was enchanted the first time I heard the sound of bellbird chirpings from somewhere up in the tip of the trees. Birds, butterflies, dragonflies, fish, blue sky, nature, etc. are fascinating.

I play a musical keyboard as well. Music is a miracle to me. It helped me a great deal during my first few years after the divorce. I started to learn music in 2008 but failed miserably as I did not practice regularly after each lesson. My mind was a mess at that time. For two years, I went on absentmindedly without much progress. Then one day the teacher said, “I think you better quit. It’s a waste of both our time and your money for you to come and achieve nothing in return for the last two years!” He was a friend as well as a teacher, but I guess he was frustrated at my lack of trying, as I could not get past the first song. However, whatever musical theory he had taught me, I got them well. It was only the practical part that I did not succeed. In truth, it was not because of my not attempting. Every night I returned home from work, eagerly turned on the digital Korg keyboard and thought I might try to practice my lesson. However, thoughts remained thoughts. I skirted around it, looked at it now and then when walking past it but eventually turned off the machine without touching a key. I would go to bed promising myself that I would try again tomorrow. It went on and on night after night.

After his historical statement, I went home and thought, “It couldn’t be possible! I was dismissed because I failed!” Then I changed my attitude. I could not stand being a failure and determined to teach myself. Lucky for me that the theories stayed and by applying them into practice, I somehow got over the humps. I was over the moon the day I leapt from being unable to read music, unfamiliar with the digital keyboard to be able to play freely. I still have not returned to my teacher, but I am sure he probably will be very surprised at my ability now, considering that I was a D minus student before.

I also enjoy singing. I started as a tune deaf singer. Terrible! During my music keyboard lessons, I was so proud thinking that I had some ‘talent’ now and I could sing even better than before. One day at a party, with that thought in mind, I put my name down for a particular song that I had been learning to play for the last two years. I thought, “Here I am, I am going to sing!” Mama mia! How awful I must have sounded as I was totally off key and tune deaf!

In hindsight, I now know that a singer must choose a key to start with, a C major or an A minor for example. Horribly, I started with a wrong key and switched from C major to A minor up and down the track, thinking that I was doing great all the time! During those times I was teased by many, half lovingly, half jokingly and half cruelly. Again, the sheer determination came back on to me, much like the willingness to tackle on my musical keyboard. I began to search the internet to get singing CD lessons for beginners.

That was year 2010.

I trained my voice diligently during my walks with Cadbury, my border collie, in the park every morning and every evening without fail. Mah meh mee mo mu, ah eh ee oh u…loudly and unrestrainedly in the empty natural reserve near my place. Then one day, a person came up to me from behind and asked, “Excuse me, is that the language for your dog and you?”

Still, I think I can sing in tune now and my tone is much clearer. At least I know how to start a song with a correct key note.

Cooking, baking, crocheting, knitting and entertaining are other hobbies when I have time to spare! I have not knitted for twenty years but I had a few jumpers and cardigans for my children, mother, sisters and myself that I was so proud of! I self taught knitting and crocheting as well from books and patterns. There were times I finished an intricate patterned cardigan for my mother, or a colourful jumper for my son. Not a stitch went wrong in two weeks. It must be passion. I am sure.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I remember writing my first article about the nostalgic effect of rain to my state of mind in Vietnamese for a local magazine in 1982. I then followed that with a few short stories during my university years. All were published by the local Vietnamese weekly newspapers or monthly magazines. The first short story was based on my deceased sister’s tragic life with glamour, betrayal, heartache and a premature death when she was a year short of turning forty. Reading back now, I was surprised at my ability to transcribe emotions of a matured woman into words with feelings so close and vivid for a 20 years old girl. My ability to write literature Vietnamese is gifted, I believe. I left my country when I was only a girl of sixteen, still a child. Many would be too young to be able to express complicated feelings and emotions in words as an adult.

There were a few more short stories or fictions and memoirs, but mostly in Vietnamese. Unfortunately, I ceased writing completely when I got married in 1985. My ex-husband had an inferiority complex and he disliked my public status in the community.

I came back to my writing with gusto in 2006 when my marriage was at stake. Writing has been an analytical tool to me. I put myself into the characters and gained strength from them. It helped me a great deal during those troubled times. Within a few months I wrote twelve new short stories and memoirs and together with the previous ones, I self published my collection in 2008. With the total of approximately $11,000 AUD raised from my first book’s launch and two paintings (I painted them!), as well as generous donations from friends and supporters, I went back to Vietnam with my family in Christmas 2008 and we organised a few field trips. We donated the total equally to four orphanages in the rural areas.

I have another self-published book in Vietnamese last year, a second collection of short stories and memoirs. Unfortunately, I have not tried to launch it yet, as I have been too busy with Shock Peace!

Strangely, I only started to write and communicate in English after my divorce in 2007. Only when I re-entered the community, I then began using my English to write emails and converse socially between my colleagues. It was very much clinical pharmacist English pre-2007 era!

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

I am not sure where my influences are. Shock Peace is my first English fictional memoir. Perhaps I have to wait for the readers to come back with their critics to know. However, I loved reading Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell, Patricia Cornwell, to name a few female writers. I create some characters from interactions with my customers in the pharmacy, or with friends and family; listening to their life stories, then mixing or portraying some part of them into my book. Other times, I use my own experiences.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…shock-peace

 I am not writing anything major currently because Shock Peace is taking a large portion of my free time. Working full time, being a president of a health professional association, having so many hobbies and interests do not help either. But I am planning to translate Shock Peace into Vietnamese for my mother and at the same time for the Vietnamese in Vietnam, for the younger Vietnamese generation who cannot find the truth anywhere but fabricated lies from the communist government.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

This is a hard question! I don’t think I am conventional in anything, especially in writing. Some might have added, even with singing! Emotions do play an important role as I usually start a story with what I have seen or how I have felt. Images and descriptions from memories, desperation and hopelessness from experience, comical scenario, odd statement, etc. are also my inspirations.

I do not create outlines or character profiles at first but I always try to give that character a likeness to a true person that I have encountered in my life, whether a stranger, a closed friend or family.

Shock Peace is my first novel and I had to focus entirely on it to be able to finish. Short stories are easier. However, I think I would like to concentrate on one at a time. I believe writers tend to start various projects at once because of ‘writer’s block,’ a few chapters here and there.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength is my emotions and descriptions, I believe. I am passionate with life and nature and I apply that passion into my sentences. With a peculiar memory, scenes and descriptions come back to me vividly either through a fictional story or a memoir.

My weakness is my untrained English. I failed English in my higher school certificate, a mere 21 percent! From then to university then to enter the workforce without further learning in literature English, my ability to write is a hit or miss experience, I think. My skill in Vietnamese literature writing might have helped a fair bit in the process of thinking, creating characters, plots, etc… but to write in a language very different to my mother’s tongue is a giant effort.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I started to talk about Shock Peace a year before I had launched it within my community. Networking within my community to get attentions from radio stations, newspapers and magazines before the launching date did help.

However, I did not try to publicise Shock Peace in the United States until recently.

I am afraid I have limited experience in the marketing side of the book to be able to give any worthwhile tips except that if writers believe in their work then they have to push to the best of their ability to get it to readers. Once they have reached their maximum capacity in trying then they can say satisfactorily that, “I have tried my hardest and done my damnedest!”

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

I think everyone has a story to tell. Inspirations sparkle in front of our eyes every day and it is usually easier to start than to finish. I believe that if writers have discipline and give themselves a deadline then the chance of reaching the end is higher. Moreover, I think writers have to be honest with their writing, to put themselves into their characters’ situations and feelings rather than their own.

CieCie Tuyet Nguyen was born in Saigon and witnessed its fall in 1975 when she was 13-years-old. After continuing to live there for three years under the communist regime, she escaped with her family by boat to Malaysia in 1978. After staying in a Pulau Besar Refugee camp for three months, she resettled in Sydney, Australia, where she has remained ever since. She graduated with a bachelor of pharmacy in 1985 from Sydney University and has operated her own pharmacy since 1989. Nguyen has self- published two short stories and memoirs in Vietnamese, one in 2011 and one in 2016. Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom is her first novel.

For more information about Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom, please visit Nguyen’s website or Facebook page.

Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom is available for purchase on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

Bill Thompson has been INTERVIEWED!!!

bill-thompson-medWhat’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I’m Bill Thompson. You can find me at billthompsonbooks.com, on Twitter @BThompsonBooks and on Facebook @billthompsonbooks.

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

Travel’s the thing I love to do most, and it’s what influences a great deal of what I write. I’ve been privileged to visit some of the world’s truly amazing places—the pyramids of Egypt, the ruins at Petra, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu and incredible cities in the jungles of Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. The more I see, the more I want to know about how these apparently primitive people could put a hundred-ton stone on top of a ninety-foot temple without using a wheel or any type of technology. The more of the world I visit, the more questions I have, and the more stories pop into my brain, waiting to be put on paper.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

My first book was published in 2009. I’m turning out three a year now, mostly in the archaeological mystery (think Indiana Jones) genre. I have one middle grade mystery called The Legend of Gunners Cove that was my second book. At the moment I’m working on book number ten, my first venture into YA/NA apocalyptic fiction. (see question 5 below for more about it)

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

I read a lot of author blogs and have gotten great inspiration from people like authors Joanna Penn and Russell Blake, whose blogs for indie authors/new authors are extremely helpful. Sean Platt and Johnny Truant held a writer’s conference in Austin last year (Smarter Artist’s Summit). I came away with more ideas and information from that one than any other I’ve attended.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…order-of-succssion

I’m always working on the next book! I’m doing something new this time. I’m writing The Outcasts, a YA/NA apocalyptic thriller about life after the Great War of 2042. Everything that went wrong started with … drum roll please … the American presidential election in 2016!

This book will be published as an e-book in three installments, the first of which will be out by mid-October, with the others following before year-end. Once the last episode is out, we’ll release the entire novel as a paperback and e-book.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

When I began all this I would work without an outline, and I found it took forever to get my thoughts together. I would write myself into corner after corner, wasting thousands of words that had to be deleted because the story line went nowhere. Someone smart noted that you wouldn’t take a trip without knowing where you were going. Same thing with writing.

I outline at least half the book up front but it continually changes as the story evolves while I’m writing. I rarely know the ending but it always comes together. Sometimes my characters go off on their own and do something I didn’t see coming. Those times usually make for a better story.

I work on one project (book) at a time. It would be hard for me to keep two plots going simultaneously. Working on just one is occasionally a challenge.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I love the English language and enjoy getting to use it every day in my writing. I also do a lot of research on my books to ensure the reader can feel that my story is interwoven with fact. If I write about a street in Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead festival, I want the reader who’s been there herself to know I actually saw it too.

As far as weaknesses go, I think procrastination—the curse of many writers—is a big one of mine. It’s easy to let things get in the way of writing, to let your mind wander until you’ve wasted an hour, or to glance at your iPhone or email account now and then. You have to have determination but if you live with anyone else—animals included—you have to have cooperation from them too. Author quiet time is critical. If you can’t get it at home, you have to go somewhere else to write. I’m lucky that I have a supportive wife who gives me space. My dogs—not so much. They sometimes bark their heads off at nothing. That’s just one of the perils of writing in a home office, but it’s one I’m willing to work around.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

For me writing’s the easy part and marketing’s the hard part. I’d much rather jump right in to the next novel than market the last one. I use social media, an ever-growing email list buoyed by CTAs in the back of all my books and I carry business cards with me everywhere. Anytime someone asks what I do I give them a card with a shot of one of my covers and a link. When I travel I carry books with me. I pass them out to airplane seatmates, I leave them in hotel lending libraries and I drop them off at used bookstores.

For my latest book Order of Succession, I am working with Smith Publicity, a firm with a track record of helping authors like me. It was my first try at using a professional firm for marketing and publicity and it’s going well.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Something I’ve heard has always intrigued me, and that’s the theory that everyone has a book inside them. I agree with that statement, although I also believe many people will never act on it, often for very good reasons. Some people can’t write—they just aren’t mentally structured to turn out a book, just like I couldn’t turn out a sculpture or a painting if my life depended on it. Other people won’t write—they think what they have to say won’t be interesting to others or they think they won’t be good at it. (My theory on that is, you don’t know what other people will think until you give them something of yours to read. And then if you get 4- and 5-star reviews, the feeling is incredibly satisfying!) And some people will procrastinate forever—there are not enough hours in the day or whatever other excuse keeps them from writing.

Thousands of writers juggle a busy schedule at home and work and still turn out great books. It’s all in what you set your mind to do. It’s your life, so go for it. If you think you’d like to write a book, who’s stopping you? It’s satisfying and fulfilling to do what you love, even if you have to squeeze it in an hour here or there in your crazy, hectic life.

Bill Thompson became a corporate entrepreneur early when at age 12, he started a company that bought and sold coins. By age 25 he had founded an insurance agency that became one of the largest in Oklahoma. Expanding and adding to that firm, Thompson created a financial services holding company that operated in several states plus Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and England. He later sold his interests and joined his son as an executive in a computer memory manufacturing and distribution company, which by 1995 had grown to be in the top ten nationally by sales.

 When that company sold, he decided to pursue a lifelong passion—writing archaeological thrillers. His burning interest in ancient sites, mysteries of the past, unexplained things in the jungle and stories of adventure in remote places drove him to frequent trips around the world. He has visited numerous historically significant sites, including Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Avebury, Egypt, Petra and many ancient Olmec, Aztec and Maya cities in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

 For more information, please visit http://www.billthompsonbooks.com, and connect with Thompson through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 Order of Succession can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Colleen Coble has been INTERVIEWED!!!

colleen-2012-black1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Colleen Coble. You can find me at https://www.facebook.com/colleencoblebooks/

https://twitter.com/colleencoble

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I love to travel! Seeing new places gets my creative juices flowing. I try to always visit the locale of my new series, and I learn things I’d never know otherwise.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I started writing in 1990 after a younger brother was killed in a freak lightning accident. It took a total of 7 years for that first book to find a publisher. I’ve written historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic mysteries, both historical and contemporary.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

I was lucky enough to land at a really great publishing house, Thomas Nelson, in 2002. The terrific editors I’ve been blessed to work with have taught me so much about the craft of writing.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…twilight-at-blueberry-barrens-jpeg

I’m always working on something new! I’m about to start a new series set in the Pacific Northwest, but it doesn’t have a title yet.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I start off with an interesting premise. For example, with The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, book 1 of the Sunset Cove series, I wondered what would happen if my heroine found out she wasn’t who she thought she was. I focus on the creative part of just one story at a time, though I’m often working on edits from a previous book and doing promotion on another book while I’m deep in the creation process of the current work. It can make a writer feel a little schizophrenic!

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I love every part of the writing process! I’m an extrovert so I even like the marketing because I get out of my “cave” and am around people. It’s hard to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. Other people tell me one of my greatest strengths is putting my reader firmly in to the story so they live it with my characters. My editors would tell you my timeline can get a little murky. J

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I love the marketing part of things because I get to talk to readers. I like to share pictures and stories of the research in the book and how I came to the basic premise. The biggest thing is to find out what you enjoy and then do it consistently. My favorite way of connecting with readers is Facebook and my newsletter.

Your email list is your best marketing tool because everyone on it is there because they want to hear about your books and your life. I’m comfortable with being very transparent about my life and include personal things in my newsletters. This past year my readers prayed for my daughter who was pregnant after suffering multiple miscarriages, and I was quick to send a newsletter with his adorable picture. Being real with your readers forges an important connection.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Be patient! It takes time to build a readership. It usually doesn’t happen with your first book. Also make sure you attend at least one writers conference a year to begin and continue that all important networking. I can’t stress how important it is to find others to connect with in the writing community. Some of the best friends I have in life are ones I met at a writing conference.

B.C. Tweedt has been INTERVIEWED!!!

Profile Pic - BC Tweedt1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

B.C. Tweedt

www.GreysonGray.com

www.TweedtSpot.com

Twitter: @Greyson_Gray

http://www.Facebook/GreysonGraySeries

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I love working with young people! On Sundays I volunteer at the youth group where I met my wife six years ago (she was the director, not a student). The junior-high students bring so much enthusiasm, hilarity, and joy to my life that I lead a small group of them outside of Sunday meetings. We’ll make music videos, serve the community, tube down rivers, or even tackle my to-do list together. In all this, I look for every opportunity to impart wisdom and help them through the trials of being a teen. There are not many adults who are blessed with the ability to enjoy the company of junior-high students, so I’m happy to give my time when I can. Also, the crazy kids keep my writing current, giving me great ideas for off-the-wall characters and witty humor!

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I’ve been writing stories since sixth grade (often while the teacher was teaching). Throughout junior-high I was writing books hundreds of pages long—mostly science fiction stories about a space bounty hunter or a fight-to-the-death match that predated The Hunger Games by a decade (but with aliens races instead of districts). Once I hit high school, my writing took a back seat to filmmaking—another way I could create stories while still staying behind the scenes. It wasn’t until college, when I started as a summer sports camp counselor, that I tried my hand at writing again, this time armed with a plethora of wacky characters and stories that would translate to Greyson Gray: Camp Legend. Though I haven’t written outside of young adult realistic fiction, I would love to return to my science fiction roots once the Greyson Gray Series comes to an end.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

I squeeze every good drop from my life experiences, mix it with my love of cinema, then season it with C.S. Lewis and the Animorphs Series (anyone remember these books?). The content is predominantly made up of characters and settings that I have seen in real life. Camp Legend takes place at a sports camp modeled after one I counseled at in college. Fair Game sets the kids (and terrorists) loose in the Iowa State Fair, a place that is dear to my wife’s heart—and mine, now! Deadfall sinks a cruise ship (I love cruises); Rubicon finds Greyson in the Rockies (my vacation place) and Dallas (my birthplace). In all the books I work toward a cinematic feel with an emphasis on endearing characters who have been sucked into a world much bigger than they are (like those Animorphs).

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…COVER -Rubicon (front only)

I’m in the planning stages for the fifth book in the Greyson Gray Series. I can’t tell you too much without giving the ending of Rubicon, but it will be bigger in every sense of the word. The country is at the edge of civil war, a hidden organization is pulling strings in the highest offices, and our hero is forced to grow more dangerous to keep up with his enemies. Just like Rubicon introduced new weapons and drones, the fifth book will give us even more cutting-edge technologies—including human exoskeletons. And after the divisions caused in Rubicon, the characters must choose sides for the coming war and face the consequences.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

First, the stories begin as little nuggets of ideas I note in my phone as they come to me. They may be jokes, characters, twists, or plot structures. I’ll then refer to these as I outline the basic plot. As the series has progressed, my outlines have grown in length and complexity, with plenty of meat in them. I spend enough time on the outline that I rarely refer to it once I’ve started writing. Sometimes the story takes twists and turns I didn’t expect, and the characters grow in ways I didn’t anticipate, so the final product deviates quite a bit from the outline.

I occasionally get ideas for other books, but I can’t see myself working outside of the Greyson Gray Series until it is finished. When I’m writing it, my mind works ceaselessly, playing the scenes through my head over and over as I drive, lay in bed, or talk to my wife. When I’m editing, I envision changes in the story and characters, resulting in even more worlds vying for my mind’s attention. When I’m done editing, my time is consumed in marketing and brainstorming the next in the series. If I added a whole other story with a whole new world and new characters to the mix, I think my brain would explode!

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I’ve had several reviewers mention that my books read like movies in their minds. I attribute this to the fact that I earned a Cinema minor in college, produced an abundance of videos, and created my own book trailers. When I write, I visualize the scenes like a movie, and I use pace, description, and other techniques so that others will, too. The younger generations crave video more than any other medium, so I see this as my strength.

My weakness may be my lack of long, lyrical prose. I’m not very good at making my sentences beautiful. Thankfully, I don’t think young adult literature demands it. Young adult focuses on character development, intriguing relationships, and exciting plots rather than style.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I’ve tried everything at least once. There’s the necessary stuff everyone does—like setting up a website and managing social media pages. I’ve also purchased a few reviews from the bigger companies. I’ve had a book launch party with family, friends, and fans. I’ve produced two live-action book trailers. I’ve continually created compelling images and videos, ran contests, and blogged to make the content fresh. I’ve bought email lists (didn’t work) and email promotions through places like BookBub and FreeBooksy (did work). Besides all the digital work, I’ve also traveled to dozens of school and public libraries to donate the first book along with a snazzy promotional flyer featuring reviews and the links to buy the rest of the series. I’ve even sold books at multiple fairs—including an arts and crafts fair (surprisingly sold well!). After all this, I’ve yet to achieve enough momentum to help me quit my day job. If it weren’t for all of the great reviews I have received, I would have given up long ago.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Let real life inspire you more than books and television. You want a unique voice with fresh content, so find unique places and people, and spend time with both. Of course, don’t give up reading and watching, but understand that everything you take in may become ingredients for the next book. Do you want the recipe to use natural and organic ingredients, or processed and packaged ones?

Also, if you want to have a lucrative career in self-publishing, be prepared to spend a lot of money in marketing. While there’s a very small chance you’ll make it big just by posting serials or by making social media accounts, there’s a slightly bigger chance if you hire an editor, a cover professional, a publicist, a website designer, and a weekly masseuse (or therapist). The influx of self-published authors is a double-edged sword. Your voice is ever smaller, and the pool of people seeking your money is ever bigger. Start saving your money as you write your first best seller.

B.C. Tweedt lives in North Liberty, Iowa, with his wife, Julie, and their son, Maverick. When he’s not working on his next book, Tweedt volunteers at his church’s youth group as a mentor of young boys, several of whom served as the inspiration for characters in The Greyson Gray SeriesRubicon is the fourth novel in the series, preceded by Deadfall, Fair Game, and Camp Legend. Tweedt plans to continue expanding the series, following Greyson as he grows up in an increasingly divided and threatening world, and is currently working on the fifth Greyson Gray novel.

For more information, connect with Tweedt on his website, or through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, LibraryThing or LinkedIn.

Greyson Gray: Rubicon is now available exclusively on Amazon. It will be available online at Barnes & Noble and iBookstore in November 2016.

The next step of this blog tour will be at Addicted to Reviews