1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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).
- Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Series. Rubicon 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