Who are your favorite authors?

Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Sara Douglas, David Eddings, Jeremy Robinson, Piers Anthony, Don Pendleton, Laura Hand (aka R. A. Spyder), Peter David, David Drake and of course…myself 😛

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My writing. I literally work eight to seventeen hours per day, five to seven days per week. Why do I push myself like this? Because writing is what I love to do. In my younger years, when asked what I would do when I retired, my answer was that I would write. That’s what I do.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend time with my wife and sons, go to church, read and watch television. Occasionally, I go out to dinner with family and friends, have cookouts and such. My wife complains that I spend too much time writing. I consider that a great thing.

How do you discover the books you read?
I browse retail sites and look at books on store shelves, and I locate good authors on Facebook or twitter. I read a lot. I consider it part of the growing process.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I was seven years old. The story was called “The Birds and the Bees.” It had nothing to do with sex, of course.

What is your writing process?
Whew…now that’s a loaded question. First, inspiration can come at any point, so I use Google Docs on my computer, tablet or phone to jot down any ideas I have, along with a very brief synopsis. And then I leave it there for later, because I can’t allow it to distract me from a current project. I would never finish anything if that happened!

Once I start a story, I make a quick, rough list of chapters, each containing a couple sentences describing what I wish to include in them. I find this helps me with pacing and keeps me heading toward a goal. This ‘outline’ is extremely flexible, and once I start writing, I only loosely refer to it. Then? I simply sit down and start writing. I don’t worry about corrections or such. I just write from beginning to end.

Once that ugly, rough, completely wrongly written story is done, I work on another book for about a month, then I start the rewrite process on the first work…this is where I improve the structure, editing, characters and pacing.

Next, I edit the book and put in those changes, and then I send it off to my wonderful editor, who is not only very skilled, but extremely uplifting. We get along great. She lives in the Netherlands, so we do video conferences often during the edit process. I can see her edits in real time…and this allows me to work on them as she makes progress.

Finally…the dreaded part! Cover design. I currently design my own covers, although I dream of one day having my favorite artists make covers for me.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not specifically. I learned to read by the age of 5 with comic books, so the first story would have been from them. I vaguely remember “Super Goof”, a Disney comic where Goofy ate peanuts that gave him powers.

How do you approach cover design?
Reluctantly. This is the thing I hate most about self-publishing on a tight budget. Normally, I browse the web for inspiration on current trends on covers, look at what my favorite authors are doing, and then try to come up with good cover concepts. In the end, and about ten failed attempts later, I end up with a good cover (I hope).

What are your five favorite books, and why?
The entire Shannara series by Terry Brooks. He is my single, greatest inspiration when it comes to writing.

The Project Nemesis series by Jeremy Robinson because…well…who doesn’t like 300 foot monsters?

Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien.

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.

The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass because it launched a series in which she created multiple original races and a great story.

The Mega Series by Jake Bible, although I try to ignore the bad language he uses in his books, the stories are very well handled.

What do you read for pleasure?
Epic Fantasy and Kaiju Thrillers mostly, but a bit of everything. I even read medical mysteries and action (like Executioner) and Westerns (love the Sackett series).

What is your e-reading device of choice?
Android Tablet. I get migraines and being able to turn on night reading is essential. I love the feel of a real book…until I realize I have nowhere left to store it.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth. Facebook. Twitter.

Describe your desk.
Don’t have one. I have a board that was once a shelf about two feet long that I put my laptop and mouse on. Then I sit wherever is quiet in the house and write, whether it is the couch, bed or dining room table.  No room for my own office since we got bikes for the entire family. Buy more of my books so I can afford a bigger place to live!

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Although I spent time in several states and towns, I mostly grew up in Tampa, Florida, USA. After my father died, life became rough, and the emotions from that period show through in my writing. I also spent time in Texas and Upstate New York (my dream place to live). I also traveled the world doing missions work in my younger years.

When did you first start writing?
Seven years old.

What’s the story behind your current project?
I have multiple projects currently, but the more prominent one it Spirits of Darkness. It is the direct sequel to A Storm of Dragons and features characters from The Wiles of Devils as well, making it a huge undertaking.

Other projects I am working on are:

Black Mist. Superhuman Thriller.

Jurassic. Kaiju Thriller.

Dark Justice. Action Thriller.

Sentinels of Hope. Superhuman Adventure Thriller.

The Wizard’s Fate. Fantasy Fiction.

Overcomer & Conqueror. Non-Fiction testimonial.

– I also have a secret project I work on in my spare time.

What motivated you to become an indie author?
The grind of sending out query letters and then waiting for a response. The waiting was the worse. My query letter writing isn’t nearly as good as my storytelling, so I was rejected a lot. Finally, I decided to take my destiny in my own hands.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I decide to read one of my previously written stories and think “Dang…this is really good!” or I see 5 star reviews of my stories, so I know people enjoy them.

What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Not enough people read novels these days. In fact, I am the only one in my house who does. My wife and sons have never read anything I have written. It’s a crying shame I tell ya!

Any advice for aspiring authors?
First, be disciplined. That’s the first thing. Ignore mental blocks and distractions, make yourself write every day. Second, don’t take criticisms hard. People’s tastes vary greatly, and you will never please everyone. Just consider advice when it is given, and decide if it is helpful or not. If it discourages you from writing, it is bad advice. Period.

Thirdly, read. Never stop reading. Venture into unfamiliar genres. Expand your imagination. And finally, never do anything in your writing that will alienate any potential buyer of your work. For example, there are people who refuse to buy books if there is a lot of swearing. Why alienate them? Find alternatives so you don’t turn away sales. Other avoidable topics might be sex (believe it or not, many people don’t like reading about it), religion, or politics, unless that is the genre you are aiming for.