If you’re looking for the first two chapters of Lori’s and my upcoming book-
The Rose Amongst the Thorns, please click here!
You may also enjoy a related article entitled My Mother
On my wanders around the world of the Internet I find some interesting folk. Today, I want to introduce someone who really has something to offer all you talented artists out there. George Vega is a well-respected, talented illustrator. He is now a publisher and he wants to work with both new and tested talent. Let George explain…
A) Hi, Nick, I would describe myself as a nice and patient guy. It feels to me that people like being around me. I’m awesome at parties! (laughs) I work hard and believe that many have more talent than I, but few can outwork me. This may come from my Kung Fu background,
Q) Kung Fu? So you’re a martial arts expert as well?
A) I am a Black Belt in Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu. I’ve competed in forms and weapons competitions NASKA from 1999- 2002. Back in 2001, was ranked second in Chinese Open hand forms and Chinese style weapons. So, ‘expert’? I don’t know, but I truly love to practice and train. I’m always trying to push myself and understand why this martial art has lasted about 1000 years.
Q) Of course, martial arts centres around patience. Would you say that’s where you picked up your patience?
A) Yes, your right. That’s where my patience may have come from. It helps me deal with people and stand up for myself in a verbal sense.
Q) You are a talented illustrator and graphic designer. Did you have to push yourself to become so good at what you do or did it come naturally?
A) P-U-S-H!!!! Ha! I think the passion is natural. I went to F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, and my focus was not right those years. Truthfully, I had it easier with graphic design.
I studied graphic design after really not doing much with illustration for years. Graphic design did flow but did not fully satisfy me creatively.
Q) The fire was still burning to do more with your talent? Push it further?
A) Yes, I believe so, because you practice and push yourself to your limits. So, at times, when I watch a movie or stay on the couch watching TV, a little voice goes off in my head and says, “Get to work, you have to keep developing– keep pushing.”
It’s the same voice that would help me as I trained with my Coach and Sifu. However, the answer is certainly ‘yes’– I pushed myself to achieve my current abilities.
Q) Has moving into publishing dimmed the fire at all?
A) It’s tough and it does steal some creative and work time, but I’m trying to cultivate the publishing end of things and want to work with quality people and artists. If I wanted to, I would print cards and hand them to EVERYONE at Comic Con’s Artist Alley and just worry about revenue and getting sales, but I don’t. I try my best to get behind artists who are doing top-notch work, print their books, and showcase them. It would be great to have a full steam ahead publishing company like the big boys where I could also provide creative services.
Q) Are you aiming to become one of the “big boys” in the future? Is that your next goal?
A) Yes, that’s what I’m working on. I can provide publishing services to artists as well as illustration work to other companies.
Q) Are you strongly connected in the world of publishing? To other artists? Other publishing companies?
A) Artists, yes. Some are great friends, too, or we have become friends. Companies– that’s growing daily. I keep making contacts.
Q) As an up-and-coming publisher, how do you feel about the current trend of self-publishing?
A) I think it’s very cool to have that freedom because it gives a chance for that little guy to make something happen. Unfortunately, when you self-publish, you don’t really know if you have something good or if you may lose a lot of money. The kickstarter thing is awesome, but I just hope people don’t get carried away with the capital and not take the opportunity to build something significant. Either way, let people be and the cream always rises.
Q) I read about a lot of writers and artists who lose hope and think they’ll never get recognised for their talents. Did you ever feel as though your talents would never be recognised?
A) All the time…
I wonder if people actually think I’m talented or not. All I know is my whole life I loved to draw and I loved cartoons. As a kid, my favorite cartoon was Voltron. I watched the credits, wondering if I could contact one of those people to teach me. Little did I know that it was all done overseas. I would like to say that patience is key– I am not a phenomenon– I am just lucky enough to know my passion.
Q) George, what would your advice be to young artists trying to break into the business?
A) Such an important question. The first step is with yourself. Take stock of what you have talent-wise.
Talk to other artists, look for people above you or who are further along. Those conversations can be worth gold as far as understanding where you want to go. Really understand the spectrum of illustration– from comics to concept work to sketch cards, traditional to digital, and everything in between…all of it. Because you have to put your efforts in somewhere and you need to choose where they are best placed. You have to know because there it too much competition out there to muck around.
Q) I think that is some of the most important advice anyone could receive. It’s no good doing anything unless you intend to do it well. Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator as a kid?
A) YES! I would always say I was going to be an artist. I wish I had someone in my family that new something about it, but my parents were not from the US and spoke very little English. My dad was very hardworking and my mom took care of us. Uncles and aunts were too far away, so I had to figure it out myself.
A) Yes, right or wrong, I did it my way. I think anyone can make it if they just keep at it and make the mistakes as well as the successes.
I am lucky enough to have a series of interviews with George. We will be discussing his publishing company Vegamation, and his own work as an illustrator. I am pumped and ready for it, be sure to catch the next one!
Links for George Vega
Contact George here
Matt Johnson approached me for an interview yesterday. I was having my usual night in with a beer and a few books– did I want to do an interview about his new book? Well, yes… It literally took seconds and said yes. We sat down at around 1am my time and Matt answered all my questions with honesty and precision. The book is about basketball and if there’s one thing I love reading about, it’s sports. Sit down and watch as Matt breathlessly works his way through an interview about his true loves– basketball and writing.
A) I wrote a book because it has always been one of my dreams. I have always enjoyed being creative and have had a goal of being an author for a few years now. I also love basketball and wanted to write about something that I am passionate about.
Q) You love basketball, too? Tell me what started your love of the game.
A) Oh boy. I would have to say that it started when I was about eight years old. I would play with my older brothers, Kent and Brian, in our driveway. Then I played for some YMCA teams and all the way up a bit in high school. I love watching it, reading about it, and playing it. It has brought me so many memories, friendships, and happy times.
Q) It sounds like, in a way, basketball helped shape your personality. Would you agree with that statement?
A) Yes, it is a big part of my life. So many aspects of basketball make up my personality. The competitiveness, the hard work it takes to be a good player, and just the love of taking on a challenge. I felt the same way in writing my book, The Biggest What-If’s in Los Angeles Lakers History. It was a challenge and one that I relished.
Q) Can you tell me about the biggest challenge you have faced in your life so far?
A) The biggest challenge of my life is helping others and being the person that I know God wants me to be. I think we all have the potential to do great things on this planet, but sometimes we fall short for whatever reason. We tell ourselves we are not good enough. I think it is important to look inside and see the potential we each have. We can each make a difference in our communities and our families. That is what life is all about.
Q) Well said! So do you spend a lot of time working with your community?
A) I try to. I have done various things, such as coaching a youth basketball team. I went on a church mission to Houston, Texas and tried to help the people there. I just enjoy helping people. It helps me forget about my own problems or worries.
Q) You sound like the all-American boy to me. Tell me about your writing process. Do you write at night? During the day? With music?
A) Ha, well thank you. I like to write at night. I am a night owl. I typically don’t write with music, as I find that the background noise muddies up my thoughts. Every now and then, I will turn on some music and just relax as I write, though.
Q) Sounds to me like you take your writing seriously. Let’s talk some more about your book. Is it about the strategy of basketball? The history? Your experiences on the court?
A) It is a hypothetical look at “what-if” scenarios of the basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers. It poses questions that fans would find interesting and would enjoy debating. For instance, “What if Magic Johnson had played long enough to have played alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant?” It’s just fun questions like that to ponder in your head.
Q) Los Angeles Lakers– you’re Californian?
A) No! Far from it, although my girlfriend is from Los Angeles and my dad grew up near there. I am actually from South Dakota. It was my dad that passed on his love of the Lakers to me.
Q) About the Lakers, do you follow them solely or do you like other teams, too?
A) I root for the Lakers because I love their tradition and many of the players they have had. So I root for them above any other team; but as a basketball fan, I do appreciate talent. I also like the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, but the Lakers are my one true love.
Q) Let’s talk about the impact of your book. How are people taking to it so far?
A) Well, it just came out this morning and so far the sales have been a bit disappointing, but it is early. It is a short book meant to entertain, so I hope people realize that. I have received a lot of support from my friends and it has garnered some “likes” on Facebook, so hopefully people will enjoy it.
Q) I am sure sales will pick up! Give it time! Where can readers get it?
A) I haven’t set up a facebook page yet, but I am in the process of it. If anybody wants to buy the book, they can do so at CreateSpace and it will be available in the next week on Amazon.com. The best way to contact me is to add me on Facebook, or visit me at my portfolio, http://mgjportfolio.weebly.com/
Q) Well, I will be getting a copy! What do you like to do outside of sports and writing, Matt?
A) I love spending time with my family. I have two older brothers (one of which actually helped me put this book together) and two younger sisters, and parents that I actually get along with! Imagine that, haha. I also love playing guitar. I am just a beginner but it is a lot of fun. I love watching movies, especially thrillers. You will often find me in the gym or on the basketball courts, of course.
Contact Matt on Facebook or at his portfolio, listed above.
Joel Seath is an author who writes to find the beautiful things in the world and to explore the characters that make life wonderful and sad. I met Joel on my travels and immediately cottoned onto his love for all things literary. We set up and interview and he answered my questions with ease. I found myself sitting back to listen to what he had to say rather than thinking of another question. Easy interviews are rare– but this was one of the easiest.
Q) So Joel, why did you become an author?
A) It’s a compulsion, a drive, I suppose. When you write you just need to keep on writing.
Q) What does a compulsive drive to write feel like?
A) It often feels like blocking out, locking in, sinking in. You know? Some days it’s a rush. Some days you read and re-read and it’s like you’re looking at something that shines (or might shine) and you want to keep that, show that, have that, always.
Q) Do you ever find it hard to stop yourself from writing? Is it like a daze or a dream you can’t break from?
A) Physically writing (or typing), yes, I suppose. I mean, it can be extremely immersive, as many writers will know. However, that immersion also plays itself out in the day-to-day, pen not in hand, computer not on. Words (or the possibility of them) are everywhere.
Q) Words are your thing as a writer? So what is your favourite word?
A) What an excellent question! A barman asked me what my favourite book was recently (your question reminds me of that): how to pick one? You can tell by the long pause that this has given me cause to think. I can tell you what my most recently learned word is (and, by extension, a current favourite): tenebrous.
Q) Tenebrous? So what does tenebrous mean?
A) It’s to do with the obscure, the dark, as I understand it. This isn’t a reflection of my writing; rather, the word has a sort of rhythmic quality to me.
Q) Well, you have to learn something new everyday! So, lets reflect on your writing. What do you like to write about? Tell me about your writing.
A) In all its forms, long and short, my writing is intended as a means of finding the small gems of this world. There are hidden things in between what we just see on the surface– there are textures and layers to relationships, subtleties, moments. I’m looking for the moments that also linger. There are ‘objects’ of beauty, even in the laments, in many places.
Q) It’s interesting that you write about “beauty,” as everyone’s definition of beauty is so different. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written about? What is “beautiful” to you?
A) Well, beauty is subjective, of course, but I’m sometimes taken aback by how things turn out. It’s unexpected. There are moments that happen which I read time and again because they still have some power over me. In one of my stories, a child’s brief interaction with the narrator takes me in every time; in another piece, it was something I wrote in a female voice because I needed to do this more, I was there with her, as her, in Venice because the words were in that flow state; poetry is a vanity, but there are lines of colour and there are lines that sink me sometimes. Questions such as these are like choosing between children!
Q) If you could write anywhere in the world– where would it be? What landscape would really incite your creativity?
A) On a beach, in the mountains, in a forest, all of these. Specifically, though I’ve done my fair share of overseas travelling, I’d come back to the west of Cornwall. Standing on the cliffs overlooking some of the little unknown coves down there, the sea and the wind in your hair and on your face, that huge sky (it really is huge, like they say in their tourism promotions), makes words just come in for me. The artists there laud it for the light; I just can’t get enough of the energy.
Q) I understand that you’re published so others can enjoy your creative energy. Which of your works are currently available?
A) I’ve got a collection out at the moment (Disintegration and Other Stories). I loosely label this as literary fiction (though that term can be interpreted in many ways). DaOS is out in ebook and print. This collection came together in an odd way: I didn’t realise that there’d been a thread running through some of my writings for a number of years. It was like seeing invisible ink slowly become visible. I’m working on a collection of micro fiction, which will be a first volume (Four Kinds of Wreckage) to be added to. Micro fiction is much misunderstood. Away from fiction, I’m also published in the field of what’s known as ‘playwork’ (a particular way of working with children). I’ve had writings taken on by the national/international playwork publication for the sector, as well as credits with the organisation concerned with psycholudic playwork practice. (Now though, I fear I’m stepping into the jargon of my other calling – though writing is also a big part of this, too).
Q) So tell me Joel– why did you want to be interviewed by me?
A) You do a good job of finding writers, Nick. When I became aware of your work I came over to your blog, and yes, I like what I see here. What you’re doing is exactly what writers need– a way of getting their words out there.
Q) Thank you, Joel. One of my stock questions is to ask– if you could be any writer from any time who would it be?
A) As far as writers are concerned, I have a range (as we all do probably): Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jeannette Winterson, Iain Banks, Ian McEwan, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, Neil Gaiman, Adrian Henri. There are others. I wouldn’t want just one small list to define me, though we start somewhere with questions such as these.
Q) Characters are important to you. What makes a good character for you?
A) The unusual wrapped up in the usual. Subtlety people often might not see. The strangely put. Love in odd places, ways; perceptions of this. Someone who aches in some way.
Q) It has often been said that “repeated readability makes a book.” Would you as an author agree with that?
A) Yes, I think I would. Who was it who said that journalism is read once, whilst literature more than this? Something like that. Anyway, it’s the sentiment here that counts. There are books on my shelf that I come back to time and again; there are passages on some pages that just astound me. Kerouac wrote about ‘fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries’ in On the Road. I come back to that time and again.
Q) You strike me as an intellectual– someone striving for the beautiful things in life. Would you agree with that?
A) I don’t know about intellectual! I certainly am on the search for the beauty of the world though. That’s in words, in moments, in art, in love and lament, in the play of children, in the play of us, in nature.
Q) What would you personally deem as “ugly”?
A) There’s nothing so ugly as not wanting to see, perhaps. Ugliness is also wrapped up in the politics of power, greed, deceit.
Q) Power, greed, deceit are words usually entwined with politics. How do you feel about the political scene in America right now? Are you an Obama follower?
A) For me these words are part of Politics (as in that which a politician is involved in); however, these words are also within the politics of everyone, their relations. Lennon had an angle here! As for Obama, I don’t really get too immersed in Politics anywhere, if I can help it, because politicians bring the media to their door in many ways. That said, when politicians willfully ignore children and their play, this gets me going! Back to Obama, he strikes me as intelligent enough, though of course I’m not in the US and not directly subjected to American policy.
Q) Well, I think we’ll end there Joel. Thank you for a great interview!
Paul W. Meier sat down with me for a second interview. (Please see the first interview here.) This one was as fascinating as the first– we really wanted to expand our conversation and I really want you to know how great this guy is. I discovered that not only was he an excellent writer, he is also a great human being and a very forward thinking and compassionate guy. I present Paul W. Meier to you again and I hope you are all listening for that voice in your gut—that’s the voice you need to hear.
Q) Hi again, Paul! So tell me what did you think of the last interview?
A) Great! It went places I never expected.
Q) That’s the way with me! So let’s talk about you as a person. What do you like to do for recreation?
A) I’m just now trying to find that out. In the last year, I’ve been working on getting four books out. Two were 80% written before the year started, and then two shorter books I put together during the year. Now that I’ve gotten those out of the way, I think I’ll have some time to go fishing – that’s my recreation. My wife and I are also catching up on some movies. We hadn’t seen any new ones in a long time, so they’re still new to us.
Q) How does it feel to have written four books? That’s an achievement in itself.
A) It’s a relief to get them done. I wanted to have several available so that my blogging and other activities might be more useful. The best part is that I learned more than anyone about the stuff I was writing as I wrote them.
Q) How about your congregation? Have they been supportive?
A) Very much so. They are an incredibly loving and generous group of people. It helps that the research I do for my sermons is much of what I include in my books, so the two activities go hand in hand.
Q) Tell me– how are the books doing? Are you reaching a strong audience?
A) I’ve had a good two weeks since the release of my new book. I’ve done some specific marketing for them because Lent begins on Feb. 13 and two of them will make good devotional books for the season – Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther and O Taste and See. I put together a plan on how to use each of them that can be downloaded from my website for free.
Q) I received an interesting question through my Contact Me page that the writer requested be passed onto you. Does God hear every prayer?
A) Of course. According to the New Testament, we are temples of the living God. God dwells within us. How else would God be able to know our heart? We just forget to look for God within…that’s usually where many of the answers to our prayers lie anyway.
Q) How would someone without any religious education find God within?
A) The same way the Himalayan masters find the Source that Christians call God. The same way people who have never been able to read have found God through the centuries– meditation, prayer, spending time in the quiet. Remember that religious education is simply that, teaching about what someone else thinks about God. You still have to choose whether you agree with them or not. Not enough people think they have permission to think for themselves.
Q) It’s interesting that you mention people following rather than thinking. Have you always had the ability to think for yourself? Or have you learnt that quality?
A) I trusted what others told me for fifty years. That’s when I began the practice of centering prayer and it changed my whole theology and life. It did lead me into spiritual leadership in the Christian faith because I had to start where I was. I think that’s how the Spirit teaches us and moves us along at the pace we are willing and able to hear. Writing my first two books was all about my learning who God is and giving myself permission to disagree where religion didn’t make sense.
Q) So what didn’t make sense to you about religion?
A) The question I always had was this: Why does Jesus’ Father not look much like the God of the Old Testament? They don’t have the same characteristics or personality. Jesus said God doesn’t kill people because of their bad actions. Is that a loving God? The New Testament says God is love, God is light – in Him there is no darkness at all. This is the good news!
Christianity has blended the Judaic faith with the New Testament revelation of God and God has a split personality.
Let me quickly say that I am not putting down the Judaic faith. There are many faithful Jews who have become kind, generous people because of their beliefs.
Q) For British readers I’ve got to ask this– What’s the difference between the Church of England (C of E) and Lutheranism?
A) That’s a broad question, and my only real contact with a group I assume to be related to the C of E (however remotely) is the Episcopal Church in the States. The Lutheran church has many more divisions than the C of E and Episcopal groupings. The similarities between us might best be found in the liturgical aspect of worship, with C of E being more “high” church than most Lutheran congregations are today. Liturgy is a treasure for all of us.
On the other side of the coin, I think Lutherans feel a little more freedom to depart from doing everything the same way. You can walk into three Lutheran churches and experience three completely different kinds of worship service. Theologically, most Lutherans “say” they believe we are saved by the grace of God, but in actuality, if you don’t think the same way, you may be suspect.
You might also take note that this is my opinion, and there are some who will disagree with my assessment.
Q) I’m actually fascinated because growing up C of E I was never really exposed to anyone who was Lutheran. It’s a huge learning curve for me. So what is the Lutheran stance on things like rock music, drugs, etc? Is it frowned upon as it is by the C of E community?
A) I’d say that if it’s legal by the standards of the state, who make laws that are hopefully built upon the desire to promote peace, harmony, and justice among large groups of people, then it might be done in moderation and without harm to self or another. Again, this is my dancing on the head of a pin. Let’s just call it the opinion of one Lutheran. Rock music – okay. Drugs – not legal.
Q) You strike me as a very fair, honest and just guy. I’m sure you’re well respected in your community. Do you find people coming to you for guidance and help often?
A) I minister in a relatively small congregation– 75-80 people in worship each week. I’m in a rural, non-farming community in the Bible Belt. It’s surprising to me that not many people in this area know what a Lutheran is either! The Germans and Scandinavians who immigrated to the states settled further north. So I help whoever God brings to me. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to write, to reach a wider audience.
Q) I had a lot of people ask me, “Who is that guy?” They just instantly liked you. I think you are touching a lot of people out there. How does that feel?
A) Anytime someone says you have helped them, it fills that space within you that wants to feel valued, appreciated, and put on this earth to fulfil a need. It’s like the beatitude: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they will be filled. We always come away satisfied when we do the right thing that brings peace and hope to others.
Q) Yes, well you certainly helped me a lot. I was grateful for your support when my fiancée went home. It’s a trying time, but I talk to God as much as I can. Have you ever had an experience with an angel?
A) My definition of an angel is “a messenger from God.” I’ve encountered many messengers from God on my journey. Somewhere in the psalms it says a man might make his plans, but God guides his footsteps. I think that means go the direction you think you’re supposed to go until the light shines on another path or a door opens that just makes sense. And most of all, be open to appreciating the moment in which you are in.
Dana Black came to me through a friend of mine called Bob Satterfield. Now, I know Bob because we both have this dream. Bob is a dreamer who makes his dreams come true. So am I. So when Bob mentioned this talented graphic artist from NY– I was interested. When Bob said that Dana would make a good interview– I was hooked. So, thanks to Bob Satterfield we now have an interview with Dana Black to read! I think you will all enjoy this one..
Q) Dana, let me start by asking you one simple question: Who are you?
A) I’m a left-handed New York-born Virgo artist with aspirations to write and create new comics and new art that inspires others to tell stories.That’s what I want most out of my art– to inspire others to write and draw, to tell the stories itching in their minds. I’m a guy with tons of stories just leaping out of my skull so it’s all I can do to filter them, boil them down to their simplest terms and then find a format to tell them all.
Q) How do you control all that creativity? How do you stop ideas from bouncing around all day? Surely, it’s enough to drive you insane?
A) Well, I’m well past the point of insane *laughs* so I do my best to scribble them down on any paper I can find, whether it’s visual ideas, dialogue or plot points. It gets to be a lot of work, but I have a pretty good memory that works well with the flood. The ideas seem to come in spurts of creativity, so when one page is filled with ideas it goes into that specific pile and let me tell you, there’s about a dozen or so piles being compiled for all of the things I want to do.
I’m not the most organized cat on the block but all the notes seem to make it into the piles they’re supposed to. If I write or draw two different projects on the same sheet, I’ll cut it out and make sure it goes where it’s meant to go- or better yet, I’ll find a way to make sure that idea gets utilized in something else entirely.
Q) Do you work in a day job or do you just live off your creativity?
A) Right now I’ve given up the day job thing so that I can have the freedom to write and draw to my little heart’s content. It’s a huge risk– just to up and leave the comfort and security of your bread-and-butter job– but it was doing this that gave me a new focus for creating. Having no safety net is a peculiar way of making sure you get to do what you want to.
Q) How are you finding life without a net so far?
A) While I sometimes think it was a mistake to let go so soon, I’m quite happy being able to create my own hours, work on the projects I want to and draw for pleasure for the most part.
The food isn’t piled on my plate and other sacrifices are made, but who needs a social life when you can invent new friends on paper who are probably a lot more interesting? I get to now say I’m living my dream. In the day job, I could never say that, let alone think it.
It’s a freedom and a struggle but it’s so worth it to me.
Q) Do you feel that following your heart is important? Creativity is more important than the commercial nature of the modern world?
A) I sure do. There’s no doubt about it for me, especially loving art and stories the way I do and having always wanted to make a life for myself doing both. I’m forty now and since I was five I was sure I wanted to make a career at telling stories and doing artwork. It would be nice if I could pull off a solid paycheck like my last job, sure, but it was deadening work and non-creative and took up so much of my time and energy that drawing after work was a struggle.
It’s been my dream to draw and write for a living and now, slowly but surely, I get to do just that and I have nothing in my way or holding me back, most especially I don’t have anyone stifling my creativity or telling me “Don’t draw here,” or “You can’t do that now.”
Q) Do you have dependents or do you live alone?
A) I’m a single dude with no kids, no pets, no one depending on me for anything. I’ve tried to tell relationship partners in the past that this is my great love; that I’m married to art, but they couldn’t understand it. Now I don’t have to worry about explaining why I do what I do or having either the relationship or the art get in the way of the other.
I don’t have to worry about waking up at 3am to draw or write and bothering anyone or having them feel neglected. While I miss companionship, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make because the sole purpose is to make ME happy.
Q) Tell me about your writing process. How do you like to write?
A) Writing for me starts with a rough idea in my head and I start by scribbling a grocery list of all the things that would make a story interesting to me. I’ll start with Stunts, actually–visual ideas of what type of action sequences would be compelling– then I glue this onto a 3 Act Structure and start breaking it down into an outline from start to finish, creating the Spine of the story. From there I start writing dialogue, something I feel really comfortable with. Then I tighten the outline, get very specific, add things, toss out others until I have an outline that really works. Meanwhile, on the margins of all pages, there’s visual ideas, character designs, vehicles, props, sigils, etc…that all directly relate to what I’ve just written. I had a friend recently tell me it was like deciphering code but it really all fits together well once I have the major plot points hammered out.
It’s drawing and writing simultaneously, basically. I write stories with pictures.
Q) What would you deem as your strongest quality?
A) Beyond being a pretty capable artist, I have a contagious love for Comics Storytelling and I want everyone to recognize them for the art form they are. It’s my passion and I often get all teary eyed when talking about how much I love this graphic world.
Q) How did you get your first break in the world of graphics?
A) Right now I’m working on a one shot called REDEYE which is my love letter to comics and in it are all of the things that floor me about comics and stories. From the danger and romance, to the humor and the horror. Comics have it all and I plan on showing them off as much as I possibly can.
I’d been drawing since I was five and won local awards and such for years but it was going to Comic Conventions where I met my idols that things started to happen. At a New York Convention in 1994 I met a Comics Artist or two who decided to take me under their wing and give me a shot at drawing professionally. The relationships fizzled but I never lost my love or interest in it. I dabbled in Music for years until a close writer friend offered me the opportunity to do covers for his novels. Once people started seeing what I could do and once I started building confidence in my work, more work followed.
I did covers, pinups, trading cards, art direction and even script supervising and now I’m doing my best to utilize all of these into projects that I’ve created myself or am doing with other writers.
Q) So what’s the plan? To create graphic novels and sell them to publishers?
A) Yeah, that’s the plan basically. Create stuff that comes from my brain and see who’ll publish what I’ve done or work with writers who have a set deal. I have no interest in working in mainstream comics, so books like Batman, X-Men etc… are not books you’re likely to see me work on. There is only one character in mainstream comics that I have any real love for and a writer friend and I are going to work out my plot for that and see if it gets a green light. If it doesn’t, even with the writer’s reputation, we have a back up plan to make it our own property and do it independently.
Q) Are you looking for investors?
A) No, not at this point. With REDEYE, we’re considering releasing it digitally to cut down on the risk factor but we have a few companies who I’m sure would find this property quite nice.
I think once people see the work finished, companies will hopefully line up to publish it.
Q) I would guess you have connections within the industry?
A) Yeah, there’s a bundle of gentlemen who like my work enough to take a chance on some of my ideas. After the first few projects are published, I see myself working on larger projects with more commitment and I think I have a few connections willing to come along for the ride.
Q) So you went into the wilderness knowing you would be published?
A) Yes, I had the confidence and the art to back it up plus that utter desperation of “Well, there’s no more Day Job”.
Q) You sounds like a natural risk taker, then.
A) I have to contain the laughter and my friends and family reading this would all agree that Yes, I’m a Natural Born Risk Taker. Or a Natural Born Idiot, either one. Take your pick. *laughs*
Q) How do you feel about a life without risks?
A) Well, I’ve worked the day jobs, I’ve done the stuff expected of me and it’s really no fun– there’s no passion and I’m a person that has to LOVE it to do it. I find taking no risks boring and dull and I’m anything but. I have friends who sit at their desks, watch the clock, collect a paycheck, go home and kiss their dogs. That is not the life for me.
But I do like dogs. Very much.
Q) What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
A) Self-publishing is something I have mixed feelings about. One, it means that I can tell the stories I want to tell unconstrained by editorial or publishers wants. Two, it means I don’t have the goods to make it and get my stories published.
Even more personal projects can find a publisher, but inferior art and story cannot and should not.
Q) Do you believe, as many do, that self-publishing has flooded the market?
Yes, there’s a boom of self-publishers. Any Joe Shmoe with a little bit of money can release a project and it crowds the racks with inferior product.
But can that Joe Shmoe produce a good book with interesting stories and top notch art? Usually not, which is why they self-publish.
Let’s face it, the industry is mired in inferior product, and it’s not just the self-publishers but they seem most responsible for it. Sometimes having that freedom to self-publish does not guarantee a worthwhile book.
It’s the obligation of an artist and writer to do their best work.
Q) So the statement “Everyone has a book inside of them,” should perhaps be “Everyone has a book inside of them– but the majority should stay inside of them.” Would you agree with that?
A) No, I can’t agree with that as much as I want to. I’d be happy not seeing many books I’ve seen . I would say draw and write the BEST book you can, then write it and draw it again and if it’s not the BEST book you can put out- stop and find something else to do. I want to see quality products, the best books, the best stories, the best art– art and stories that pump me up and not leave me cold– and that’s my goal. I want people to be blown away, not because they’re supposed to be, but because they are.
People are not being their own worst critics and that’s why we have so much trash on the stands. “Hey, Bob, here’s a good idea.” No, it has to be GREAT.
Q) What made you say yes to an interview with me?
A) Well, we have a mutual friend Bob Satterfield who approached me about it and with his recommendation and your quality of interviews. I said “Why Not?” It sounded like fun and it has been. I wanted to continue taking a risk to get a little bit of me out there and to express my love for the graphic medium and didn’t know if I’d get the chance again any time soon. Also, I felt it important for an artist to be heard.
Q) Well, Dana thank you for stopping by. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you!
A) Nick, you’re very welcome and I have to thank you for the opportunity and it’s been a real joy to have spoken to you at length.
David Alvin is a forward thinking guy. He’s a risk taker with the faith to know all will be good. David is also author of many books, most notably, “The Burning Bush is Your Friend” and also happens to be a guy I can now call my own friend. We have spoken on many subjects– books, music and David Frost. What did we talk about for this interview? Keep reading to take a look!
Q) Hi, David. Tell me about yourself– who is David Alvin?
A) I knew you’d ask this first (I HAVE read your other interviews!) I would say David Alvin is what Winston Churchill said about Russia: “A riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.”
Nah, not really, I’m a servant of my Lord God, an acceptor of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (the term “Christian” I use hesitantly for that term appears three times in the New Testament, and two of those times its derogatory), the husband of Martha, the dad to Sarah and Jeffrey, the small business owner whose business is getting bigger every day, and a creator of words upon paper that make sense! Most of the time.
Q) What’s your business? How do you feel about running your own business? Are you a man who believes in enterprise?
A) I’ll give you these answers separately:
1) My wife and I started a Shaklee business of our own — it’s a fifty-five year old health and wellness company specializing in inch loss/weight management products, environmentally friendly cleaning products, comprehensive multivitamins, and natural beauty enhancers — last March. We’re not making near what we want to make, but doing quite well. Hey, who couldn’t stand being healthier? For more information check out our business website.
I feel running my own business — it’s good that I can’t get fired from it, for one thing, but I’ve also got a lot of help locally and an excellent support system — gives me more of a sense of purpose, sometimes makes me feel more alive, that this is something I can leave to my kids and my wife should God forbid something happen to me. You may consider my view of the man of the house being the provider a bit … um, old-fashioned, but I believe I have to be the one who doesn’t give up — at my writing, in my home life, anything.
Do I believe in enterprise? I would think that’s self-evident, but how’s this: I believe in striking out on your own and being willing to take your lumps is essential to making any achievement of yours work. I’m sure you can relate to that, too, and we can both guarantee the person doesn’t live who’s never practiced enterprise to its ultimate potential!
Q) Well said, David. So can you tell me, how your faith has guided your path in life?
A) I would say my faith has helped me most by giving me a purpose beyond myself. Certainly if I didn’t have it I would have never driven up from Florida where I grew up to remain with Martha (a two-and-a-half day drive in Summer 2002) just two years after I met her online and a year after we’d met in North Dakota and I got taken aback, “She’s THE ONE!”
I was not — at least I don’t believe I was — a thief and murderer growing up, but when I was about fifteen it came across to me, “What’s the point of life?” It’s not that I didn’t believe in God and didn’t, um, go through the motions of church attendance and being an all-around “good kid” (maybe I was TOO good; I didn’t go on any dates through high school though I did ask, and I had it explained politely by one young lady that going out with me would have felt like going out with her dad).
Faith made me/makes me a risk-taker. And taking a risk makes me a better child of God, husband, father, employee, business builder, and creative artist.
Q) Your faith allows you to take risks? Can you give me an example of this?
Q) Yes, perhaps the very first risk you took?
A) Ok, ok, I’m going to go with one that was more something I had to do rather than what I wanted to do … when I was five years old and living in Illinois where I was born, I was diagnosed with a tumor. Thank God it was a benign one, or we would not be having this conversation, but the surgery I had for the tumor was in the pre-radiation therapy days (late ‘70s), the doctor had to go in and attach what’s called a shunt to the back of my head and drain the fluid from the tumor out of my head and into an incision by my stomach.
Prior to that, I remember doing well in Kindergarten (my reading was so good that I got to go to the first grade class at my elementary school for a while and read with them) but not outstanding, at least academically.
When I moved to Florida and started school there in First Grade, oh man, did I blaze a trail! Sometimes I acted smarter than I was, but I could just pick up concepts and words faster and place them in context better. I recall I heard the word “clone” on a TV show one weekend in fall of ’78 and the next week in class we had to name words rhyming with (or was it ending in) O-N-E.
I came out with the word “clone” and the teacher was saying it wasn’t a word. I imagine it wasn’t used greatly in the late ‘70s, but I politely argued it was, and explained myself to the teacher and the guidance counselor in the room, and … I don’t know, I got the impression then you could learn AND teach as well!
Made me want to be a teacher for a long time, and in a way I still am.
Q) You have a very inspirational story there David. So let’s focus on your writing. How does David Alvin like to write?
A) How do I like to write? Usually, as it occurs to me. The idea of writing for a living didn’t really occur to me until I started to read a Janet Scarborough novel in my high school days and stopped myself in the middle of chapter three and said, “I could WRITE a better book than that!”
So I started … and got to a chapter and a half of a story tentatively titled “Suicide Progeny” as well as a few others my freshman English teacher was really impressed with. Then I put ’em aside, and university happened. Life happened. Work happened, and then gone were the nineties.
Come the turn of the century, I’d moved up to be with Martha in North Dakota and came across the older stories I’d written and found myself with a bit of time to ask, “What happened next, then what happened next, then what happened next?” incorporating some characters I’d created in high school and the few chapters became twenty-eight and that became my first novel Progeny.
That led to an idea for the second novel “Legacy” (a sequel to Progeny published in 2006) and a sequel to THAT (“Victory,” to be released soon). Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month.
Q) I know you are quite prolific. How many books do you currently have in print?
A) As of now, I’ve published nine books via self-publication — five novels, three Bible studies, and one book-length poem.
Q) Tell me more about your novels. What are they about? Where are they set? Are they connected? Do they stand alone?
A) The novels are mostly set in a world (Progeny, Legacy, Litany) where the heroic age was the day before yesterday and certain villains and powers have taken advantage of that.
The Carbonari Players my first NaNoWriMo novel was a pure fantasy, a murder mystery set in the afterlife, if you can believe that.
The Book of Numbers is a novel set during the time of the Biblical book of Numbers with Moses, Aaron, and the like fighting to set the children of Israel up in the Promised Land — that may be the novel I’m most proud of, because I wanted to tell the story it’s often hard to get even if you study your Bible, to make my readers realize it’s pretty exciting.
Q) You mentioned your non-fiction work, The Burning Bush wants to be your Friend: A Study of Exodus. Can you tell me more about that one?
A) The Burning Bush is a chapter-by-chapter Bible study about the book of Exodus, when not only does Moses discover who he is — he’s the one who sees the burning bush — but the children of Israel are reminded who they are. Originally, this was a series of blogs I wrote in 2009 and I didn’t want some “random” accident to make them disappear.
Q) Of all your works, which is your personal favourite?
A) Depends on what time of day you ask me! *laughs*
Seriously, The Book of Numbers is my favorite novel; Litany is my favorite story (I wrote that from a first person point of view); and The Chariot of Israel (a study of the Old Testament’s book of Two Kings) is my favorite Bible study — so far at least.
Among those three, The Book of Numbers because it’s a retelling of a great story a lot of people don’t remember.
I use the capline on the back cover:
“The story everybody knows. The story nobody knows.”
Q) Where do you find the inspiration to write?
A) I keep my eyes open, really — no lightning bolt from the skies needs to hit me! If I hear something incorrectly or an especial title or a direct quote from somebody hits me — well it does, and sometimes it’ll be a year or two before I expand on it in a story or within my novel (I’ve got journals going back more than twenty years). Additionally, I have all kinds of writings I’ve accumulated which drives Martha crazy sometimes, but I’ve gotten it more manageable.
Q) What are your personal thoughts on self-publishing?
A) I feel it’s the only way you will get noticed most times. Traditional publishing requires you to know somebody who knows somebody and/or be willing to outlay major cash, and maybe end up with a lot of copies of your own book to sell …
I used to think it was my goal to be a “list” author, but now it’s not.
Q) What is your goal now, then?
A) My goal is just to write — of course, I don’t mind ending up one day on the New York Times bestseller list or some such thing — and express myself, and maybe have a few people see something in my work that encourages them to write their own.
Q) Do you ever find people writing to you asking your advice on their own writing?
A) Sometimes … or I find myself giving advice when someone wants to write or checking over someone’s work. For someone just starting out, I just say write not to impress anybody or be fearful of offending somebody, but write because you’ve got something to say.
Q) For the editing and proofreading stages of making a book happen– do you use professionals?
A) No, I don’t right now … unless you consider me one. *laughs*
Q) What’s your opinion of bloggers who get paid to do interviews?
A) Provided you know the fee up front and you, the interviewee, are satisfied with the finished product, it certainly works!
Q) David, what is next for you? Another book? Another poem? Tell me what’s going on inside your head.
A) Another novel. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but various issues kept me from getting in live. I’m also considering an upcoming movie likely to resurrect interest in the Land of Oz that might have been a blessing in disguise. It’s called “Refugees From the Emerald City. There’s also my third hero-based novel, “Victory” that I want to finish and bring out but something’s missing with it at the moment.
Q) How many books do you have sketched out in your mind?
A) Maybe five or six that come to mind right now … and childrens’ books … and another two Bible studies at least.
Q) If you could give any advice to a young writer, what would it be?
Don’t worry about being right, don’t worry about being accurate, don’t worry about being interesting — these are all things that can be worked on — just start.
Q) Thank you for this wonderful interview, David.
A) Thanks, Nick.
I hope you all enjoyed my words with David! Check out his entry on my Hot Books page here!
SMD Proofing & Editing Services – Ms Siobhan Day
So how did you become a proofreader?
I studied a degree in English, originally with a view to teaching. I’ve always found proofreading quite exciting and I get a real satisfaction from spotting those spelling, grammar and punctuation errors that others sometimes miss. Having spent years working for others as a proofreader, I decided it was time to go it alone and set up my own proofreading service.
What services do you offer?
What can I say, if it needs proofreading we’ll do it! We offer a wide range of services such as;
What can writers expect from you?
SMD Services has a passion for making what you write right! We offer a quality service but we also offer great prices. We like to look at each quote individually, rather than just offering a blanket price, giving us the opportunity to offer the best service to our clients. We take the time to understand exactly what it is the client wants, whether it’s just a simple proofread for grammar, punctuation and spelling or full copywriting. We aim to ensure your work is clear and correct whilst still preserving your voice and vision.
How many books have you proofread?
SMD Services has many clients who use our services, from authors to corporate business’s looking for not only proofreading but also brochure and website content. We have a proven track record in proofreading and translation with a growing client base.
What kind of books do you enjoy personally?
My genre of books is mixes really. I love anything that makes me escape for a few hours whilst reading. Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale stands out as one of my favourites, but I also love the classics, an occasional romance and you can never beat a good thriller that has you on the edge of your seat. I love those books that leave you wanting more!
How much are your services?
As I said before, we do not have a standard blanket rate. We have such a varied client base that we prefer to take each quote individually so that we can offer our clients not only the best quality but the most competitively priced service. We also offer a price matching service, we will beat any like for like quote that you may have and we also have special offers once a month for our clients.
How can people get in touch with you?
People can visit us at www.smdproofing.co.uk and request a quote or they can email us direct on firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Deborah Lloyd sent me a mail last week and asked for an interview. I thought perhaps she had written a novel or a biography. It turned out that she was an advocate for what we in England call “Alternate” medicine. I was hooked from that moment because I’ve always wondered about this kind of healthcare. I have interviewed many fascinating people– however, I have seldom learnt so much from an interview! Read on about the wonders of Reiki and how it can help you.
Q) Hi, Deborah! So tell me all about yourself. Who is Deborah Lloyd?
A) I am a person who is passionate about all kinds of healing – whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. I believe healing can be a long process – just as many of our problems increase over time, so does the healing.
I am a licensed clinical social worker who works with a hospice agency, a Reiki Master – and now a published author!
Q) I heard that you are now an author! How did that come about?
A) I truly felt that part of my life purpose was to share my own healing story, to help others to find healing in their own lives. My story includes having been stricken with polio at the age of three, losing my father when I was eighteen years old, and having other challenges in my life. As I turned to alternative methods of healing, I started to realize that many of these challenges were really opportunities to learn life lessons. For example, when I began to think that I could get physically better (after 50 years of being basically the same), new opportunities seemed to land in my lap. But, I had to say “yes” to these opportunities and take more responsibility for my own improvements.
Q) You mentioned saying “yes” to opportunities for improvements. Could you give me an example of an improvement you personally went through– after saying “yes”?
A) Sure. I had been diagnosed with post-polio syndrome, and my main symptom was chronic fatigue – and it was quite severe. I saw a physician who prescribed a medication that helped a little. Then, a coworker told me about Reiki, thinking the healing energy could help. At first, I thought it sounded rather “woo-woo,” but decided what did I have to lose? My chronic fatigue lifted some during the first session, and more after the next few. Now, I never have chronic fatigue. If I had not accepted this opportunity, I do not know what my life would be like….by the way, this was in 2001. And, I still use Reiki on a daily basis.
Q) If you stopped using Reiki– would the symptoms return? Do you have to continuously use the alternate therapy to stay symptom free?
A) I doubt if the symptoms would return now, because it has been so many years since I’ve had chronic fatigue. I now use Reiki simply for several reasons – stress relief; and the possibility of more physical improvements in my legs. My legs have also become stronger and they are now always warm – before Reiki, they were often cold to the touch. Who knows what might still be in store for me? Also, Reiki helps me in my meditation practice – to get to that calm, centered place.
Q) Would you suggest alternate medicine over traditional medicine?
A) It really depends on what the problem is. If you broke your leg, I think you ought to go to the emergency room and have it set. But then, I believe the alternative methods could assist in a faster and smoother recovery. But, there are times when perhaps an alternative method may be the best solution to an issue. How many of our physical ailments are truly caused by an emotional issue, that could be ameliorated by energy healing? Quite a few, I believe.
Q) With American healthcare so expensive and health insurance because a less viable option financially, is alternate medicine going to become a viable substitute in your opinion?
A) Yes, and it is already starting to happen. There are a few insurance companies that are now covering acupuncture and massage therapy, for certain diagnoses. I think it will take more time, and more openness by the healthcare professionals. There is now some research demonstrating the effectiveness of some of the alternative methods. There are now a few studies showing that Reiki in recovery rooms decreases recovery time after surgery. Of course, we still have a long way to go….
Q) I mentioned the financial problems of healthcare earlier. Tell me, is alternate medicine expensive in comparison to traditional medicine?
A) Alternative medicine, in general, is much less expensive. No pills from the pharmaceutical companies, no high tech machinery, no corporate expenses. I believe the ideal will be a truly integrated system of using physicians when necessary, but using alternative methods as part of a treatment plan. How great would that be – for the alternative healers to be part of the team, rather than seen as an “outsider.” Perhaps, the first thing we need to do is get rid of the word “alternative!”
Q) Yes, it would make sense to integrate both forms of medicine and use both. Would you agree with that?
A) Yes, for sure. I do appreciate what western medicine did for me. I had surgeries as a little girl, and if I had not, my life would have included crutches and braces.
Q) I think surgeries are important, but the negative side effects from pills seem to outweigh their positive effects. Are there ever negative effects from taking, I won’t say “alternative”– let’s say, “natural medication”?
A) I like that term – natural medication – will have to start using that. I cannot think of any situation where there would be negative effects, unless you went to an acupuncturist, Reiki Master, or other practitioner who was not well trained. I’ve never had a negative effect with a Reiki client, or had any negative effects from Reiki myself.
Q) I think it’s a good term, too! I should copyright it! So what exactly is “Reiki”?
A) Reiki is an energy healing method, where the practitioner lays hands on the client. We recognize that the chakras are energy centers located in the physical body, along the spine. The hand positions correspond to the chakras. The healing energies can go to the physical, emotional or spiritual aspects of the chakras.
Q) So how often do you have people turn to you who don’t particularly believe it will work? How many shocked patients do you come across?
A) Good question! We actually have quite a few skeptics come to us – and that’s okay. Often, they make an appointment because someone else talked them into it, and they have the “what do I have to lose attitude” – just like I did. The first response is I usually get is how much calmer they feel, and how warm my hands got.
Q) So when did you start to write your book?
A) I started writing my book about five years ago and it took about three years to write. I was writing it as I was actually experiencing much of the healing. When it was complete, I started to send it to publishers and had a contract within six months. That was certainly an affirmation that it was supposed to be published!
Q) How are readers taking to it?
A) It is doing quite well. I have done a number of book signings, festivals and social media events. In general, people are becoming more open to the natural methods, and are curious.
Q) Other than book signings, festivals and such– how have you been promoting Believe and it is True: A Story of Healing and Life Lessons?
A) I do my Reiki work in a massage and healing arts center, that my husband owns. He has a website, advertises, uses social media, etc. I do Reiki trainings and presentations about Reiki, the chakras and similar topics. Sometimes, people learn about Reiki from the book. And, sometimes, they hear about the book from a presentation, or from a Reiki client.
Q) Can I ask? What made you decide to come for an interview with me?
A) I saw a reference about you and an interview with an author on Facebook. So, I googled your name and found your Novel Ideas website. When I read the interviews on your website, I was truly impressed! Your interviews were informative, interesting, and fun.
Q) Thank you! Well, I do my best! I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Tell me, where can people get your book?
A) The book is available on the Amazon’s, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million and Powells websites. Or, it can be ordered directly from my website, www.deblloydhealing.com – and you’d get an autographed copy. Or, it can be ordered through a local bookstore. It is available in paperback, or as an e-book.
Q) Wow! You’ve really got it well marketed! I hope it’s a fantastic success for you Deborah! How much is it, by the way?
A) The retail price is $22.95 retail; and on Amazon goes from about $16 to $18. I’m selling the autographed copies for $19.95. E-books are around $9.
Q) Thank you so much for your time Deborah! I hope this book will help a lot of people!
A) Yes, the REAL purpose of the book…. Thank you, Nick!
You can contact Deborah via her website.
Author Gary Hayes came to me on Sunday and told me he was finally ready for an interview. I was ready, he was ready and my proofreader was ready. We started chatting and soon I could see that this was going to be one great interview. This week, I decided to make Novel Ideas better. I needed an interview for the “Hot Picks” page and who better than a talented author like Gary Hayes? Let Gary tell his story to you!
Q) Great to meet you Gary– so how did you get mixed up in this crazy world of writing?
A) I’ve been writing for about 30 years, all my life really, but I took several years off to pursue a Music degree and a Martial Arts career. Yeah, I know, doesn’t seem compatible, but you’d be surprised at the similarities.
Q) Could you tell me about the similarities? I’m sure readers would love to know how it feels to connect all of those arts. This may be a pioneering thought– martial arts and writing together!
A) I’m a pianist/keyboard player, and much of what you do in practice is getting your fingers to obey your mind. Lots of repetition, techniques, strengthening the muscles, etc. Then in performance, it’s all about flowing with the music, reading the other performers, adjusting to what they are doing.
In Martial Arts, it’s exactly the same. A good fighter is like a good musician. Preparation by learning techniques and strengthening the necessary muscles. Then learning to read your opponent, anticipating his moves, going with the flow of the fight.
Many things learned in one discipline translates easily to the other, if you look at it right.
Q) Do you believe good writing skills take time to learn– like the skills used in martial arts or those used by musicians?
A) Absolutely. Although some people are born storytellers, the mechanics of writing is a learned thing. And the better one understands how to express certain ideas and feelings, the better the story flows.
I’m still learning about commas. Nasty little buggers.
Q) Talking about commas, do you use a proofreader? Do you use an editor? Do you agree that writers should use professional help?
A) Personally, I need all the help I can get. I’m in a professional writers group called Dark River Writers. Each person in the group has published professionally. Some, like Brad Strickland, have sold many, many books and stories. Brad is also an English professor at North Georgia College. Everyone in the group has read my stuff and made numerous corrections. I’m still fighting typos though. Even after repeated readings by professionals they just keep sneaking in.
Q) I have the same problem. I always use an editor for these interviews. Nothing worse than a badly written interview, eh? Can you tell me about your latest book? What is it called?
A) My most recent novel, out just this week, is Beneath Castle Walls, Book 4 in my serialized novel Sleag’s Quest. It’s an epic fantasy with what I hope are some interesting differences from typical fantasy stories.
Q) Interesting title! What is “Sleag’s Quest” about?
A) Sleag, the greatest warrior in the world, is forced to rescue his wife and son from an evil wizard who has taken over her kingdom. He assembles a band of colorful characters, a stable boy, an innkeeper, a powerful witch and her equally powerful teenage daughter, and a master swordsman who all agree to help him on his rescue quest. Things get complicated very quickly.
Q) Do you believe that “Sleags Quest” is your best work so far?
A) Yeah, and getting better with every typo. Ha. I started it about ten years ago and the more I live with it, the more I see interesting things to bring out. It’s like the Star Trek movie Wrath of Kahn at the end when Spock says, “Remember.” That was not in the original script and just sort of a throw away Nemoy came up with. Then it becomes a whole ‘nother movie.
I keep finding things like that in Sleag all the time that make the book oh so much richer. I love it when things from early on all come together at the end.
Q) Tell me about your writing process. How do you write? Do you like music in the background? What helps you get into the writer’s groove?
A) I’m a seat-of-my-pants writer. I don’t like doing an outline, although I’ve found that my first draft is actually a very long outline. Music, yeah, got to have music. But nothing with lyrics, too distracting. I like to hear the words in my head and often speak them aloud. Rhythm and flow is so important to my writing. I don’t like clunky sentences. But after 30 years of writing, all it takes to get me in the groove is sitting down and hitting those keys.
Q) Tell me about your personal publishing experience. What turned you onto the Kindle Direct Program?
A) Well, this is my first published book. It runs about 225,000 words. Agents and editors I contacted all said it was too big to take a chance on. One agent actually said books that big intimidated him. This surprised me because most fantasy books are real door-stoppers. So, after years of shopping it around I decided to serialize it and go with Amazon’s Kindle Direct program.
So far, I am very pleased. It’s selling better than I expected, and I still have two more books to go in the series. So, yeah, I’m very proud of Sleag’s Quest. I think I’ve got some really great covers, too. It’s the kind of book I would love to read.
Q) So what tempted you to come over and get interviewed by me? Did you see my previous work?
A) Yes. I’ve read several interviews. And of course I get your Facebook posts. I’ve always believed that books are the best, most fun, most interesting, most rewarding things anyone can buy. Everyone should be excited about books. Everyone should do all they can to help other writers. I used to work for Waldenbooks (15 years) and I loved turning people on to new writers and having them come back and buy more of the same. So, I really appreciate what you do. It’s a joy, pure joy to read about new writers.
Q) Talking of loving books! Who are your own favourite authors?
A) Long, long list all over the map. Starting with Dickens, Shakespeare, Jack London, Vern and Wells, and moving on to Asimov, Clark, Heinlein, Niven, Norse, Norton, Tolkien, of course, C.S. Lewis, and on and on. More recent: Scott Card, Rothfuss, and especially Scott Lynch. Lies of Locke Lamora is the best thing I’ve read in a long, long time. Oh, and let’s not forget Bradbury!
Q) So how do you feel about writing? Is it a creative need for you? Is it a way to make extra money? What drives you as a writer?
A) Definitely a need. Money is always nice. I’ve made more this past year than any other, mostly on short stories. By the way, I’ve got a Steampunk story coming out in Clockwork Fairytales from Tor in June. It’s a novella, and I’ve very proud of it. I’ve always loved reading, and to be able to write my own stories is wonderful.
Q) What do you personally think about paying for interviews on blogs? Recently, even I have come under fire for being paid to do this. Do you believe interviews should be free?
A) Everybody needs to make a living. When I was in college, I took a piano pedagogy class. It was all about teaching piano. The big thing, the first thing they emphasized was, “Your friends will want you to teach them how to play for free. Do not do it. They will not appreciate what you teach them and they will not practice.” If you worked for a big magazine and got paid for doing interviews it would be different. Somebody has to pay for your time and experience. That’s life. Nothing is free. Live your life and help others as much as you can. Nobody writes for free, at least nobody successful.
Q) What does it feel like to be a published author? Has it changed you in anyway?
A) It’s pretty great to go to a bookstore and see your book, or an anthology with your story, sitting on the shelf. And right now, having a thousand people reading my books is frankly unbelievable. I think it would have been better if it had all happened when I was much younger and could have enjoyed it like in a movie. But, hey, I’ll take it any way I can get it.
Still, it’s always about the next book or story, isn’t it? No matter how great the feeling is now at this moment, I still have so much more to write. Let me tell you a story. . . .
Check out the Sleag’s Quest series below!
Soldier, Construction Project Manager, Author. Lloyd Tackitt has lived and now he is on my blog for an interview. How did I meet Lloyd? Just another fateful meeting when two people start a conversation. I asked Lloyd over for an interview and he replied by asking me when would be a good time? Right now? Okay, lets talk….
A) Hi Nicholas, it’s a pleasure to visit with you.
I’ve published three books in a post-apocalyptic slash survival series. The first two books – A Distant Eden and Adrian’s War. They are half survival manual and half novel. I thought it would be interesting to mix real survival instruction with a fictional account of how they were used. The books are getting excellent reviews and selling very well – getting attention mostly by word of mouth. Top reviews have been given for both elements of these books, the instruction element and the story line.
The third book – Eden’s Hammer – is more novel than manual. Survival instructions are finite, at least real ones are. I covered just about everything in the first two books on survival without getting into the esoteric techniques – such as starting a fire with a candy bar and a can of soda. Eden’s Hammer includes tribal scale guerrilla warfare tactics that are explained, but mostly it’s about the adventures of the main character, Adrian Hunter. This book was released the first week of January.
I am writing the fourth book in the series now. I haven’t settled on a title yet. I think this fourth book may be my favorite so far.
Q) What drove you to become a writer and which book was your first release?
A) My first release was A Distant Eden. It was published in March of 2012. The second book Adrian’s War was released in August of 2012, and the third, Eden’s Hammer, in January of 2013.
What drove me to write the first book was a combination of three things. 1. A fascination with the subject of post-apocalyptic survival. 2. The advent of self-publishing at the level it recently reached, making it available to me. 3. I spend three hours per day commuting to and from work, leaving me a lot of time to think about what to write.
What drove me to write the others, and to continue writing, is a love of writing. I have written a considerable number of short stories (available for free at lloydtackitt.com). Those stories eventually led to writing the first novel. My novels, so far, have been on the short side of the classic novel definition, around sixty-thousand words each. My writing style is compressed and direct – nothing florid about it. I try to make every word count and not put any filler or fluff in. I could easily double the length of these books, but the story would be the same story with a lot of window dressing. Not my style.
Q) How are the public taking to your work? How are sales?
A) Excellent. Far better than I had dared to hope for. Sales have been truly wonderful and the feedback has been beyond my wildest dreams. I am developing a rapidly expanding reader base, and get emails every day asking when the next story will be available. My answer to that question is – As soon as I can get it finished, polished, and published. I write part-time, my days are very full and leave little time for writing, but I squeeze writing in every chance I get. I’ve published three books in ten months, so you can see that while my writing career is part-time, it is productive.
Q) So your latest release is Edens Hammer. Can you tell me what us a little bit about it?
With no spoilers? Okay, I’ll give it a try. Imagine a man who is in a post-apocalyptic world and has recently lost the love of his life. He has gone off into the mountains to be alone, but ended up in a war with a group of raiders that also practiced cannibalism. He’s just finished that war when his uncle sends word to come home as fast as possible, their entire village – Fort Brazos — is under threat of annihilation. Adrian, the protagonist, rushes home to find a large group of criminals about to descend on his village and overwhelm it with superior numbers and firepower. Adrian assesses the situation and goes into action to save his village. Much more than that and I start to tell the story itself.
Q) Where did the title Edens Hammer come from?
A) I’m not completely sure it’s explainable. Partly because it is a part of the Distant Eden series of course; but also partly because the protagonist, Adrian, is the one man that his family and friends believes can save them. Titles are strange, you try several out, roll them around in your mind for a while and then try some more. When one finally feels right you leave it alone for a few weeks, then try it again and see if it still feels right. Eventually, one feels right and keeps feeling right and you go with it. There’s a lot to the selection process that isn’t rational, more intuitive. Like working out the cover art.
Q) How would you describe the process of writing a book?
A) I’ve written tons of short stories and the books are kind of different and kind of the same. At least the process I follow is– probably different for each writer. First, I think about the story while commuting. I roughly shape it in my head, the introduction phase, the first couple of pinch points, the main crisis and the resolution. These are my guideposts.
When I have that firmly in my mind, I begin writing. The first draft is almost purely spontaneous, letting the characters lead me as I go along. You’ve heard of the characters taking over the story? That’s true for me. Often the characters are out there wandering around getting into and out of trouble and I have no idea what they’re going to be up to next. Other than they follow the general guideposts I mentioned earlier. That’s the first draft.
Once the first draft is complete, then I go back and start re-writing, changing the story here and there, adding and subtracting. That’s the second draft.
When the second draft is complete I go back and really tweak the “close to the ground” part of the story. Re-working dialogue, checking for conformity of details, adding descriptions of places and people.
When that’s complete, I go through it looking for spelling and grammar errors, or clumsy sentences. After that I send it to the editor, get it back from the editor and go through the comment review/approval process. The final version goes to the formatter to get it in shape to upload. I’ll have been working with the cover artist for a few weeks at this point and it should be completed. After formatting is done and cover art is done, I upload it and then start chewing my nails waiting for reviews.
Q) If you could have written any book by any author– which would it have been and why?
A) “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. My all time, number one (with no number two even close) favorite book. Harper Lee creates a world that is completely immersive and inclusive. I cannot read that book without being pulled into it. I’ve read it perhaps fifty or sixty times, trying to understand her writing style – but I always get pulled into the story and can’t see the trees for the forest. Her style is completely invisible, you just can’t see it.
It’s also a story that has every element in it that you could ask for, and the characters become so real that I sometimes think of them when I am recalling family members of long ago.
Q) How many books do you have in mind for release?
A) Total? I have no idea. I am going to start a murder mystery series soon. The Distant Eden series has at least one more book to go– the one I am working on now. I may come back to it later and add more, it’s an open ended world that can be described in story for many books to come.
Q) How was your publishing experience? Would you promote self publishing?
Since I self-publish it’s a peaceful experience. It’s all in my control – other than the amount of time it takes to get material back from editing, formatting and cover art. I can’t control those time frames entirely, but by planning ahead with the various people involved the time is kept to a minimum.
Q) Do you have an editor or do you edit your own work?
A) I’ve worked with editors. I can’t edit my own work objectively. If I tried to self-edit I would never finish a book. I never look at one of my manuscripts without wanting to make changes, and sometimes a lot of them. At some point though you have to let go and move on, and by sending it out to an editor I can make that break while getting objective criticism on the final book. That’s a great way to work. Editors and editing were invented for a reason.
Q) Edens Hammer is out now, correct? Where can people buy it?
It’s out now and can be purchased on Amazon for the Kindle version and CreateSpace for the paperback. The paperback will eventually be available on Amazon also, but that always takes time. A Distant Eden has just been released in audio format as well.
A) I do have a website that has many of my short stories on it. I’m not a computer savvy person so I don’t update the site often with recent news. It’s lloydtackitt.com.
I also have an author’s Facebook page that I can operate so it has more up-to-date information on it. http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLloydTackitt
I also have an email address where readers can correspond with me. I always try to answer within five days and usually do better than that. I’ll answer questions about the books, the upcoming releases, survival, or just about anything other than religion and politics. email@example.com
On the subject of politics, I sometimes blog at: libertyauthors.com/index.php/lloydtackitt/
I am also an avid fly fisherman and blog on fishing at: fishexplorer.com on the Texas part of the website.
So! Now, I have to go out and get a copy of Edens Hammer. I’ll do that just as soon as I click the publish button on here! I’m coming, Lloyd!