Matt Johnson Takes to the Court with His New Book

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.

MattQ) Matt, why did you write a book?

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.

Matt Johnson

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.

Advertisements

The World of Publishing According to Dana: Nick Wale Interviews Graphic Artist Dana Black

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..

Dana Black

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.

Dana!

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.

DanaLook out for the wonderful work of Dana Black! It may soon be at your local comic store!

I Want to Tell You a Story: Nick Wale Meets Gary Hayes

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!

gary Hayes

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!

returnofthewarrior - Copynegerasbog - Copy

lyndyschoice - Copybeheathcastlewalls

Don Keith– Putting His Own Spin on the World of Publishing

What can I say about Don Keith that hasn’t already been said a million times? Best-selling author, blogger, radio disc jockey, happy guy who just loves his work. I had been looking forward to this one for a long time. I met him through my travels and I knew he would make a great interview for “Novel Ideas.” Sometimes you just have an itch that tells you who would come across well. Don made me itch like crazy (in a good way!) When we first met, he spent time advising me about interviews and approaching authors. In a world full of huge egos, it was refreshing to meet a genuine great guy such as Mr Keith. I present the man who writes best-sellers to you now in my own golden spotlight.

don keith

Q) Hi, Don! Let me start by asking you to tell me how you got into writing?

A) I’ve wanted to tell stories on paper since I was a kid and published my own short stories for people in my neighborhood. All six of them! But I was working with a company that produced software for broadcasters and ad agencies and that put me on the road with a laptop computer. In hotel rooms at night, I could either watch TV, hang out in the bar downstairs, or finally start that novel that was rattling around in my head. I chose the novel. I used some chicanery to get in touch with a literary agent who promptly turned down the novel, but he said I could write and to submit anything else I produced to him. I did–another novel–which he promptly rejected, but urged me to keep trying. The third novel was sold in two days to St. Martins’ Press and I have kept writing since, 26 published works later!

Q) What happened to those first two novels? Did you get them published in the end?

A) The first still languishes on a floppy disk somewhere and, honestly, it is pretty bad. The second one became my second published novel, Wizard of the Wind, after I took what I learned from the editing process of the first one, The Forever Season, and did a major re-write. Lesson learned. Be honest when you go back and look at what you have written. Get input from trusted sources. If you see what you did is not very good, move on. But if there is still something there with which you can work, mold it and shape it and see if you can make it better.

wizard of wind

Q) So your experience would suggest that being turned down is remedied by trying again. Would you agree with that?

A) I admit it is never easy when someone tells you that your baby is ugly, but you must be honest with yourself first. On the other hand, wonderful manuscripts are rejected every day by agents and publishers for reasons not often understood by the writer. If you are confident your work is valued, has a potential readership, and can make money for a publishing house, keep pitching. And work on the next book while you do. An author may have the next Harry Potter franchise or To Kill a Mockingbird, but if an agent does not have a relationship with an editor/publisher who is looking for that kind of material, he or she will be reluctant to represent the work. An agent who sends material to an editor blindly or without knowing if that editor is interested in seeing such material will not be an agent long!

Q) So what happened when you finally got published? It is oft said that a book can turn you into a millionaire overnight. Did you earn a fortune overnight?

A) Everlasting fame and wealth! Not hardly. First, if a writer is writing to get rich, he or she is in for a real disappointment. If one is able to make a living writing books, wonderful, but the odds are stacked against it. Write to tell a story, introduce readers to interesting characters, and affect them emotionally. Then, if you are fortunate enough to make money at it, wonderful! As you can imagine, I get many questions like this from would-be authors, so I have a section on my web site at http://www.donkeith.com that deals with this very subject. Just click on the “On Writing” tab. I’ve also expanded that section and published it as an ebook called “Writing to be Published…and Read.”

Q) I’ve read “Writing to be Published” and enjoyed it immensely. You come across as a really friendly guy. Do you try to help all young writers who come to you for help?

A) As much as I can. I had some very kind and patient authors give me hope and advice early on and I like to pay it forward. I do get a little perturbed with those who want the book to write itself, or who want to take an idea or some characters, dash out some words, and try to sell it and let an editor “fix” it. Writing is work. Stories have to be told. Life has to be breathed into characters. If a person is lazy or is looking for shortcuts, sorry. There are none, unless you are famous or write pornography, or both.

Q) I totally agree that you have to put back what you take and learn the trade. It’s a trade that takes time to master or at least partially master. Can you tell me what Wizard of the Wind is about?

A) That book has just been republished, by the way, after being out of print for a while. It tells the story of a young man who is fascinated by the magic of radio broadcasting and the new music he hears on the radio in the 1950s. He accidentally becomes a disk jockey and rides the growth of radio’s second “golden age” to the top, eventually building his own broadcasting empire, but through greed, he loses sight of the magic of the medium that first captured his imagination and almost loses it all, along with those he loves the most. It is a metaphor for what has happened in radio broadcasting here in the US in the past thirty years, told by someone who has been there. I worked in radio for twenty-two years, then in marketing and advertising for the next twenty-five.

Q) You were a disc jockey? Coming from the South you must have spun a whole load of Elvis discs in your time.

A) Yes, and Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Allman Brothers, Beatles, Stones…lots and lots of discs. I have actually co-written a series of novellas with Elvis’s first cousin, Edie Hand. And had the pleasure of doing country-music radio from a station on Music Row in Nashville. I had guests on my show from Barbara Mandrell to Ronnie Milsap, Marty Robbins to the Oak Ridge Boys. But I’m name-dropping! I was just as thrilled to do a book with Captain William Anderson, who took the submarine USS Nautilus to the North Pole in 1958. And another couple of novels with a former sub skipper who helped develop SEAL operational tactics…and one of those will soon be a major motion picture. The director is the same fellow who directed Denzel Washington in his Academy Award-winning role in “Training Day.” See, I can drop some names!

Q) Did you ever spend time any of those country singers?

A) I met and interviewed most of them. I had dinner with Reba McEntire and she sang me a verse and a chorus of a song she had recorded that day. It became her first number one song. Ronnie Milsap brought over a tape of a song he had just cut and asked if I would play it on the radio so they could see how it sounded over the air. I did. It was “Record of the Year” that year. Barbara Mandrell called me at 6:30 the morning after she was named “Entertainer of the Year” and we did an interview while she put on her makeup.

Q) What was it like working with Marty Robbins?

A) Marty showed up that evening with a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers, and we enjoyed while doing the interview. Afterwards, he asked if I minded dropping him off at his bus. They were leaving for a tour. It was on that tour that he suffered the heart attack that eventually took him from us. “El Paso” is one of the great story-songs of all time and would have made a great novel or western movie.

Q) I agree about Marty Robins. “Gunfighter Songs and Trail Ballads” was always one of my favourite records. How about Jerry Lee Lewis? Did he ever turn up on your travels?

A) No, but I put him in Wizard of the Wind in a key scene. I wanted to represent the anarchy of rock and roll and how it was so powerful in reaching to the very soul of young people during that time. He was the perfect symbol.

Q) Jerry is certainly something else. How about Johnny Cash? Did you ever meet him?

A) Yes. His brother-in-law worked for me at the radio station. So did Hank Williams’s step-daughter and Hank Williams Jr.’s step-sister. In fact, when I first moved to Nashville, I lived for a while in Hank Williams’s home. The radio station’s owner had bought the mansion, complete with a wrought-iron fence around the pool that featured the musical notes to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to the bullet holes Hank had put in the living room ceiling while inebriated. But there I go, dropping names again.

Q) I’m a huge Hank Williams fan. When I was nine or ten, my math tutor had every Hank recording. The LPs, EP’s– everything! I love everything he recorded. What’s your favourite Hank song?

A) Hank was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Listen to the lyrics of “I’m so Lonesome I Could Die.” Can’t believe I swam in his pool and visited the studio where he recorded many of his songs.

Q) Don, what’s your latest release called?

A) There are actually THREE new ones. Final Bearing is the submarine thriller co-written with Commander George Wallace, and the book that will be a major motion picture, hopefully in early 2014. The second is Undersea Warrior, the true story of one of the most innovative and controversial submarine commanders of WWII, Dudley “Mush” Morton, which is approaching bestseller status and is now a featured selection of The History Book Club and The Military Book Club. Third is The Spin, a novel I wrote a while back and have now published myself. It is so unique and, unlike most other books these days that have not gotten much interest from the major houses, I’ve offered it myself on all bookselling sites. It tells the story of a man at such a low point in his life that he decides to make one last, desperate gamble–putting everything he has left on one spin of the roulette wheel at a Las Vegas casino. When word gets out about what he is going to do, thousands of others join his quest, and that foolish risk becomes so much more to so many. It’s funny, tragic, moving and, I hope, inspirational. As I did with my novels, sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zones, take some risks, and listen to our hearts instead of our heads.

Q) I really want to read The Spin. It sounds like a great read. How are people reacting to it?

A) Wonderful reader reviews so far. I’m just beginning to promote it, and that is what is so difficult for so many authors. That’s why someone like you is a godsend because you can make others aware of books that may not come from the major publishers. I’ve been fortunate enough to be published by the biggest–St. Martins’, Tor/Forge, Penguin, Thomas Nelson–and want to continue to do so, but there are other options now, too, with Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, PubIt, and others. The publishing world is evolving at the speed of light!

the spin

Q) Well, I am happy to plug your books, Don! That’s my job! Where can people get The Spin?

A) You can visit my web site: http://www.donkeith.com, or simply search for me on Amazon.com and visit my author page there. I write books on subjects that I enjoy reading about. I can only hope there are enough people out there with similar interests to enable me to continue doing so. I have myriad stories to tell and a million characters I’d like to introduce you to.

Q) Anytime you’d like another interview I’m happy to do so!

A) You let me talk and expose my ego. What else could an interviewee ask?

Follow Don’s work through his author’s page on Facebook.

How did Don strike me? He struck me as a man who enjoys communicating, whether on the pages of his books or over a flaky internet connection, his warmth shines through. I will be interviewing him again. I’m sure of that. I just hope we have more time next time we meet. Adios, Don! It was a fun way to spend an hour!

Boyd Lemon Makes Sweet Lemonade– An Interview With Nick Wale

The truth is a state of mind. Boyd Lemon has been interviewed many times before and I could have just asked the same stale old questions about his life. I knew I had to do something different and I had to ask questions that would give you an insight into the man. So, who is Boyd Lemon? Well, there are several Boyd Lemons. The first is the nationally recognised lawyer who lived the excessive lifestyle of the seventies to its fullest. The second is the writer, the man who sits in a coffee shop, tapping away at a new manuscript, deep in thought. The third is a family man who adores his children and grandchildren. The fourth Boyd is one who paints and paints until his heart is content. The fifth is the world traveller who has been to lands far flung around the world. Boyd is as multi-faceted as any human being can be. I tried to ask the questions that would give me the answers to the questions his biography asked me.

 

As a writer, Boyd has written a biography called “Digging Deep” that tells a revealing tale about the failure of his three marriages. Additionally, he has written travel memoirs and short stories. He is currently working on a fiction book. The interview happened as follows:

Boyd L

Q) Hi, Boyd, I’m pleased to meet you. So why did you become an author? With such an illustrious career as a lawyer behind you, what drove you to become a writer?

A) I never felt fulfilled as a lawyer, despite forty years of practicing law–sad but true–so I knew I had to retire as soon as I was financially able. I really wanted to do something fulfilling, but I didn’t know what that could be. Then, when I was sixty-five, a publisher asked me to write a law book on the subject of malpractice by attorneys. I wrote that book, and it was published in 2006. I enjoyed the writing and publication process, but I knew I wanted to write something outside of legal topics. A writer friend of mine suggested I try writing short fiction. I told her that I didn’t think I had any creative ability, and she said, “Baloney, everyone has creative ability; it is just a matter of developing it.” So I took a stab at it and wrote a short story, and then another one and another one, and so on. Eventually, I was hooked on writing. I knew what I had to do in retirement.

Q) So you write to fulfil yourself and to live your dream. Do sales matter to you? Do you worry about the next royalty check?

A) I invested my savings and cut back on my lifestyle so that I had enough income, along with Social Security, to live the modest way that I wanted. I learned that I didn’t need a big house, a fancy car, etc. So I am in the envious position of not needing to earn a living from writing. I love that I can write whatever I want without regard to whether it will bring in a paycheck. The only reason I care at all about sales is that I do want people to read what I write and hopefully benefit from it in some way, so I have to sell books.
boyd

Q) Of all your books, the one that stood out to me loudest was “Digging Deep.” I thought it took great courage to analyse yourself in that way. What was the writing experience like? You must have learnt so much about yourself.

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages is still the book that has meant the most to me. To try to understand my role in the destruction of my three marriages was excruciatingly painful emotionally. I learned a lot of things about myself that I did not particularly like. However, in the end it was tremendously healing. I had no idea how damaging it was to hold all that in under the surface. The process of writing the book brought me a peace that I had not known, and, I believe, has helped people understand themselves and their spouses or ex-spouses or partners better. I am not the only one that had the faults and human frailties that I uncovered about myself.

Q) How have readers taken to that book?

A) I have had a lot of varied reactions. Many people have told me that it helped them understand things about their own relationships that they were not aware of. Some people chastised me for disclosing private information about my ex-wives, especially acquaintances who knew one or more of my ex-wives. I received a lot of compliments for having the courage to open up and expose myself and my human weaknesses and issues. Virtually all people praised the quality and depth of my writing, except for one guy who, when I had a special promotion of the e-book for a limited time for 99 cents, wrote on Barnes and Noble that it wasn’t worth 99 cents. Oh well. Fortunately, he was in the small minority.

Q) You can’t please everyone in this world. So changing the tempo, tell me about your book “Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany.” You sound like a guy who loves culture and travel.

Eat-Walk-Write

A) Travel is my second passion, something I have known for many years, but was not able to pursue (except for business trips) until I retired. By 2010 I had been to Paris twice for short periods, and I loved the art, history and architecture there, as well as the café culture. People actually talk to each other in Paris–endlessly, it seems. So I decided to move to Paris, originally, I thought for two years. I ended up staying a year, and I lived in a working class neighborhood away from the tourist areas, although I visited the tourists areas. There were challenges, to say the least– the primary one being the language. I did not speak a word of French when I got there, and I found it a very difficult language for a seventy year-old to learn. Dealing with the French bureaucracy as a resident alien was also difficult, was finding an apartment, opening a bank account, etc. But all of that was superseded by the magic and glory that is Paris. it was the experience of a lifetime. I kept a journal daily, and when I got home to California, I decided to turn it into a book. I miss Paris.

Q) If you could live anywhere in the world, would you choose Paris?

A) That is a tough question. My answer is, no, but I can’t think of any single place that I would want to live indefinitely. That is probably why in the past six years I have lived in California, Boston, Paris and now rural southeast Georgia.

Q) Tell me about Boyd Lemon the man. What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, interests, etc.

A) Well, we have covered some of it. I love to travel, and not just to far away places. I enjoy St. Augustine, Florida, which is about an hour and a half drive from my home. Next month I’ll spend a few days in Savannah, Georgia, about the same distance in the other direction. I love to explore new places, learn about the history of different areas of the this country and the world. For example, I learned that St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., settled in 1540. I love good food and wine, and I emphasize that it doesn’t have to be expensive food. There are some places around here that serve amazing catfish and hush puppies. I am a fanatic baseball fan and always have been, a long suffering Dodger fan. Last summer my best friend and I took an eleven stadium baseball tour across the country starting in Anaheim, California and ending in Atlanta, Georgia. We saw eleven major league baseball games in sixteen days. I also love and am close to my four children and four grandchildren.

Q) Would be right to describe you as a family man, then?

A) I think so, despite the fact that I didn’t make a success of my marriages. I have always been close to my children, especially as they became teenagers and adults and had the freedom to make their own choices.

Q) So how do you write? What is the writing process for you? Do you write in silence? With music? Long periods of writing? How does Boyd Lemon write?

A) I write some almost every day, although it can vary from a half hour to six hours–generally around three, I would say. I find that I write best and most enjoyably if I vary the places where I write. Sometimes I write at my desk at home, but I also write in cafés, parks when the weather allows, libraries occasionally, planes and trains. I do not need silence, as long as something interesting to me is not going on, like a baseball game on TV. I do not play music while I write, because I like to be listening to music when it is playing, and I can’t write and listen at the same time. But I can write in a crowded, noisy café and just tune out the noise. The main thing is that I need to vary the place. I can’t just stay holed up at home for a long time, day after day. I have been known to get on a train, ride it for a few hours, stop and turn around and ride it back home.

Q) You strike me as a jazz fan, Boyd. Am I right?

A) Ha! Yes, jazz, folk and classical, even a little blue grass when I’m in the mood.

Q) I knew it! I grew up with bluegrass– Bill Monroe should be known better.

A) Oh, yes, absolutely. Around “these parts,” as they say here in Georgia, he is.

Q) The closest the English really get to country music is some of the Elvis stuff and Slim Whitman.

A) Yes, I am not very familiar with English music, except, of course, the pop from the ’60s and ’70’s and the later punk, etc. One of my favorite country singers is an unknown that I just happened to meet. She is from Denmark– Jessica Lynne.

Q) I will check her out! Anyway, I digress– you write fiction, too, am I right? Tell me about your fiction work.

A) So far the only fiction I have written is short, and I have published a book of ten of my short stories, and a small book of five. Several have been published in small literary magazines. My short stories tend to be about relationships, family and otherwise, and the conflicts that occur, as well as the challenges that life brings to us all. After a few short stories, I really wanted to write a novel, but felt that I wasn’t ready yet, so that is when I wrote Digging Deep. But now I am ready, and I just started on a novel two weeks ago. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far. I love writing the first draft; it is so thrilling to just let it flow, let my imagination run wild. The comes the editing process, which as it moves along gets more and more tedious. I hate proofreading, but it has to be done.

games-boyd-lemon-paperback-cover-art

Q) You do the whole process yourself? Most writers use proofreaders and editors. I’m surprised you go through the pain.

A) I use editors and proofreaders, too. I think it is a necessity to have a polished product, but I want it to be the absolute best I can make it before I submit it to somebody else, because I think that gives the work the best chance of being something worthwhile. Why should I submit something less than my best to somebody else?

Q) I agree, that’s a very responsible attitude. I must admit, Boyd, you have won a new fan here. So tell me, who are your favourite authors?

A) Oh, that is really a difficult one. There are so many. I will name a few, but understand I am leaving out many. Hemingway, McMurtry, Marilynne Robinson, Wally Lamb, Tolstoy, John Irving, Stephen King, James Baldwin, Austin, Vivian Gornick, to name a few. And I’m showing my provincialism. Most are Americans. I should have included the Brit, Franzen. He is wonderful.

Q) If you had to pick one of your books for a reader who didn’t know your work, which would it be?

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, unless a reader just has no interest in the subject matter of marriage and divorce. Then, Eat, Walk, Write. Of course, the Retirement book is directed toward a specific audience, people who are near or in retirement.

Q) Any last words you’d like to say before we wrap up?

A) Well, first thank you for an interesting interview. I really enjoyed it, and you asked more than just the standard questions. And I want to say to readers that my greatest reward as a writer is that the reader is learning something helpful to him or her from my books. That is what I have in mind when I am going through the writing process. Finally, for other writers: I know it is a struggle, and it is highly unlikely that you will become rich and famous, but keep at it; just grab that pen and notebook or computer, and sit down and write every chance that you get. It is a noble undertaking, in my opinion. We, as human beings, are the only species who can write.

Boyd Lemon

So what do I think of Mr Boyd Lemon? Well I think he is a genuine and decent man who has uncovered much truth about himself and exposed it to the world. He loves his new careers and his family and as Mr James Fant said to me the other day, “Love’s alright. Isn’t it?” Yes, I would say it is.

Links to Boyd Lemon:

Check out Boyds Amazon Author Page for more information regarding his work.

For excerpts, reviews, interviews and information about all of Boyds books see the official website here.

Boyd Lemon on Facebook

Boyd Lemon Facebook Fan Page

Follow Boyd onTwitter

Email Boyd directly at: Boyd (@) BoydLemon-Writer.com

Everyone’s a Winner With Laura Kendall– Nick Wale interviews an Author and Self Publishing Guru

L J KendellI am one of those guys who always looks for a service offered. When people ask me for interviews, I am the first to explain what I offer. Searching through the internet I found Laura Kendall who offers her services as a “self publishing consultant.” I had never heard of one of those– so I emailed her and asked her to join me on this blog for an interview. Who I found was a woman who knew what she was doing and obviously gives more than she takes. Laura Kendall should be the first stop for all of you who want to publish a book.

Q ) Hi, Laura! So tell me about your experiences as a writer? How did you start?

A) I started in 1996 after reading a Patrica Cornwell suspense novel. I decided to write one myself and thought, “Well, how hard can that be?” I found out how hard. Mystery and suspense needs lots of plotting and twist and turns. Plus, I lacked confidence in myself so it took me until 2007 to finally finish my first book entitled A Simple Case of Suicide.

Q) How did Patricia Cornwell inspire you? What made her the catalyst for you to start writing?

A) Her novels drew me in to the point I forgot about my life and really felt like I was in the story. Her characters are real and complex just like people are. Her plots are also very intricate and keep you guessing. I loved her books and still do.

Q) So tell me about that first book you wrote– A Simple Case of Suicide— what’s it about?

A) I work as a paramedic and have for the last twenty-six years. We get called out frequently to do pronouncements of death as part of the job. I thought, “”What if I was ever called to a scene to do a pronouncement where the lead investigator said it was suicide, but clearly there were signs it was murder? What would happen if no one believed me and I set out to investigate on my own with the killer being someone very close to the investigation?” So, Paramedic Kendall Rose was born and her cohort partner CJ Wagner. Together they set out to investigate and all heck breaks loose. The book has been well received and people really seem to enjoy reading it to the point they can’t put it down and stay up all night reading. This just makes my day and it helps quiet the inner critic that often pops up in a writer.

Q) I know that inner critic well. Did you ever feel, as I have, that writing is just a dream?

A) Absolutely. I thought, “Who will ever want to read my book?” Well, it turns out lots of people do and really enjoy the ones I’ve written. Now, with the advent of the internet and the amazing opportunities for self publishing authors, the sky is the limit. I believe that every book you write and publish can be a mini-business earning you income. I haven’t mastered the marketing end yet, but I’m working on it. After writing the first book and gaining confidence and quieting a little that inner critic, the other eight just seemed to fly out. It is my passion in life to now to empower other writers to squash that inner critic and write their book – self publish it and be a published author.

Q) Are you looking for authors to work with you actively? Could readers get in touch and talk to you and gain help?

A) Yes! I obtained my Professional Coaching Certification in 2011 and discovered the niche I am passionate about is self publishing. Nothing lights me up more than seeing one of my clients write, self publish their book on Amazon, Nook and Kobo and have a new outlook and belief in themselves. It is an awesome feeling.

My website is www.adaringwriters.com and my email is ljkendallcompany (@) gmail.com for anyone who is interested in exploring self publishing and the opportunities out there. I coach clients through the writing process and publishing. I also will publish the books for my clients in paperback and ebook form if they do not want to do it themselves. What is unique about me as a publisher is I publish the book for a flat fee and hand over the reins to my clients. Their royalties are theirs to keep–100%.

Q) So, what is your flat fee?

A) My fee for publishing a book to Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle is $750.00 US. Pubit (which is Nook) is $350.00 as it requires more work to format; and Kobo is $250.00. I do not do editing as I am just not good at that, but I do have an editor I work with who is a professional coach and editor. My coaching fee is $75.00 an hour. The only time there may be an additional fee is if the formatting is horrible for the paperback version, but I coach clients through the basics so the book is usually well-formatted before it gets to me for upload. I also provide a unique cover for the book as well.

Q) Well, your fees sound very reasonable to me. How many books have you worked with? Do you prefer any particular genre?

A) I prefer fiction, self-help and metaphysical books. These are what I have mainly done for my clients and myself, but I’m always open for learning.

Q) How does it feel to be working with authors and making their dreams come true?

A) It is my passion. I believe that everyone has the answers already within them and, through coaching, we not only work on the book, but the inner critic as well. My clients are so excited and happy when they see their book live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo as well as their own website with a digital store. This has really restored my excitement and sense of purpose in my life. I absolutely love coaching, publishing, writing and most of all, my amazing clients.

Q) I know the feeling– that’s why I love doing these interviews. Just to share some of the excitement of publishing a book is a thrill. So what is next for you?

A) I’m currently in the process of writing a sequel to my book Witches Enchantment and it is called Vampire – Seduction of a Cougar Witch. I also have a third book in the Simple Case series in the works. Plus, I get to work with other authors and coaches publishing their books. I have the most amazing and awesome job.

Q) Could you give me some titles of books you’ve worked on? I’ll make sure there’s links to them with this interview.

A) Sure! A Simple Case of Suicide and A Simple Case of Revenge are my suspense thrillers; Witches Enchantment is my paranormal romance; Goddess School is an empowerment book for women over 50; Hurricane Deadly is a book I wrote after living through the terror of Hurrricane Sandy; A Daring Writer’s Handbook and its companion workbook A Daring Writer’s Workbook help writers with plotting, formatting, scene setting, character development etc.; my medical books are The Top Five 911 Emergencies and How to Handle Them Until the Paramedics Arrive and The Top Five Winter Emergencies and How to Handle Them Until The Paramedics Arrive. I write under the name L.J. Kendall for my fiction novels and Laura J. Kendall for my self help and medical. They are available as paperbacks on Amazon.com, Kindle and ebooks for Nook and Kobo.

Q) You are certainly prolific. I think a lot of authors would be making the right move to work with you. Do you ever turn down manuscripts sent to you?

A) I don’t want to say “turn down,” but if they are poorly written, formatted and edited I will try to work with the writer and coach them in those areas. With coaching, my clients are able to work through many of those areas and getting a non-judgemental opinion can really be refreshing for a writer used to rejection or criticism. I will say it is very important to have your book professionally edited. I made the mistake of putting A Simple Case of Suicide out there after having friends good at grammar and English edit. Let me tell you I got three reviews from people telling me how badly they were edited. They all said they loved the story, but my editing sucked. Reviews show up on Amazon and influence how people will buy your book. Now that the book has been professionally edited, those negative reviews have stopped and sales are picking up.

Q) That’s wonderful news! I get the feeling that you truly care for the authors you work with. Have you had any success stories yet? Or would you say each new entry on Amazon is a success story?

A) I say each person who dares to write and put themselves and their books out there are heads above the average person. That is why my writing books are called A Daring Writer’s because we as writers really do open ourselves up for review, critique and criticism. So I say all my authors are successes whether they only give their books away to family members or they sell a million. For them to have taken that leap of faith makes them winners in my book!

So there we have another godsend to Authors! If you have a manuscript and you don’t want to make the journey by yourself– or you need someone to help you make it to success– you need to meet Laura and work with her. Thank you for coming over for the interview!

A Simple Case Of Suicide!

 

Cobb Conducts his Symphony of Words- Nick Wale interviews Douglas R Cobb

Aside

Douglas Cobb is a man on a mission. I noticed from the start of the interview that he was easy going and self assured. I knew that this would be a great interview and it would be fine to stray away from his books and into his life. A happy family man at heart, this interview with Doug was one of the most entertaining I have undertaken so far.
Douglas CobbRecently, Douglas finished his first western. The book entitled Crossing the Dead Line is now on general release and Douglas is now doing a series of interviews about this great new western novel. The book, based on a true story, is about a black Marshall.  I thought the book would have a feel of “True Grit” about it. I was wrong. It’s better. This is a tough, action packed novel about a man who, although not given equal treatment, risks his life for his country. Bass Reeves gives up his dream life on his own farm to catch hardened criminals. Crossing The Dead Line Ebook NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!!!

Now, Douglas is the kind of guy who wakes up and goes to work to feed his family. He knows that although his books are doing well he feels the need to keep working as he is the man in his house and believes in the true American spirit. He is a native of Illinois, but now lives in Arkansas with his family. His readers have already enjoyed his previous efforts and he has received endless praise for his Y/A books The Case Files of Lily and PAWS and is currently working on the Christmas addition to the series. Lily is not your usual terrier. In fact, she’s not a terrier at all. She’s a pterodactyl who has the power (among others) of clouding peoples’ minds. Join Lily, her “owner” thirteen-year-old Celeste, and the other members of PAWS (Private Army of Warrior Sleuths), Fuzzy Wally MacGee (a Chinese Crested/rhino), Lucy Marmoset Higgins (a Great Dane/orangutan), and Prince Alphonse Saed (a miniature Dachshund/mountain lion) as they fight crime wherever they encounter it. Read their humorous and exciting adventures as they battle against the criminal organization, the Scarlet SNURFLES, headed by the scarlet Macaw, Frankie Sinister. And, when they also have to face the Scarlet Mafia (lead by the scarlet Macaw, Benny the Beak), the aliens known as the Greys, the red Egyptian fox and leader of the Guild of Assassins, and the red panda, General Yao Xing, can even Lily, Celeste, and PAWS hope to succeed? Disney will indeed be knocking on the Cobb family door for the rights to this series! The Lily Series Available NOW ON AMAZON!

We started the interview in true author fashion. Douglas was hard at work whilst I waited for him to become available.

Q) Hi Douglas– This is a pleasure for me as I love your work. When can I tear you away for an interview?

Next week–just kidding. *Laughs*

Q) Your daughter seems to be a big influence on your writing. I bet she is proud that her dad is a writer. Tell me– are you the same as any other dad back home with the family?

A) Though I always have loved to write, and I majored in English in college, I hadn’t really tried to sell any of my short stories, poems, or novels. I got wrapped up in starting up a family, getting a job, they usual sorts of things most people do with their lives. But, my daughter did get me back interested in writing, when she requested that I write a book about her dog, Lily. I ran with that idea, and made her into a talking pterodactyl, and the crime-fighting head of an organization of her friends, also mutant animals, called PAWS (Private Army of Warrior Sleuths). It’s become a series, beginning with Lily, Unleashed, the first book she inspired. After that, there’s Lily and Paws: The Ghosts of Summer  and Lily Solves Them All, in which Lily must solve 7 crimes using the methods of 7 of the world’s most famous detectives of literature and the Silver Screen. Included are Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple. Then, I wrote My Brother The Zombie: (The Zombie Revolution: Book One). My son’s photo is on the cover of that one. He’s also been an influence on my writing, especially with that book. And, my last book is Crossing The Dead Line, though I’m working on a Lily and PAWS Christmas novella currently. You and your girlfriend are in it, you know. (Nick laughs- “really?”) Yes, you two are werewolves–nice ones, so don’t worry–LOL.

Q) Thanks Douglas! Lori and I appreciate it! Did you see my latest interview? I gave a huge shutout to you, buddy! Hope you heard it in Arkansas!

A) Yes, I did–it was one that everyone who loves great literature should read, so that they can learn more about you and your book. I’m sure that it will be a hit, when it is published. Thanks for the shout-out! (Douglas paused for a moment and looked straight at me, a smile broke out on his face.) A brief answer for once, LOL…if I get too long-winded, just hit me upside my head once or twice…

Q) It was my pleasure! So tell me about Douglas the man– what do you like? What do you do to relax?

A) Tax accountancy work, going over files like Bartleby the Scrivener from Melvile’s tale. No, not really, of course…mostly, of late, I haven’t had much free time, as I am either at work, online tweeting about my books, or writing. But, I like to spend as much time with my family as possible  and I love to read and write book reviews. I have stacks of books that are rapidly taking over the house, demanding to be read–though, I want to get the as-yet-unwritten books inside of me out into the world, as well. Oh, and I like to play with Lily, of course, take her to the local Pterodactyl Park, lift weights, and do yoga…somewhat…though I find the more pretzel-like moves very daunting.

Q) Sounds like you have a few bestsellers to come yet! Tell me about your writing? Do you listen to music when you write? Talk to the wife? Total silence? What does Douglas Cobb dig for writing?

A) When I was younger, I liked to listen to Rock whenever I either studied or wrote, like the Beatles, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, The Police, etc.–New Wave and Punk also,,,I still love to listen to this music, but as my family are asleep by the time I generally do my writing (between 10:00-2:00a.m.) I try to keep the noise down and maybe have CNN on in the background.

It’s difficult to keep inspired for a long period of time, unless I have dreamt up certain dialogue/scenes during the day for a chapter I’m working on, so I usually only write maybe 1,000-2,000 words per night. Sometimes I’ve hit over 3,000, but sometimes just 700 or 800 words a night.

Q) So, I imagine like the rest of us you struggled through the recession– how did it change your life?

A) The recession didn’t strike me, personally, as hard as it did many American, though I definitely feel the pain at the grocery store and the petrol (gas here) station–the “pain at the pump”. Somehow, unforeseen by me, I wound up working on the fringes of the automotive industry. The company I work for did have a slow-down, and a hiring freeze, and some people were laid off, though not me–we are still recovering, but business has picked up. One good thing is that, though Cloyes Gears sells timing components to the Big Four car companies here, we also deal with the various used parts companies like Napa and Auto Zone. We don’t sell used parts, but Cloyes Gears distributes parts to these sites across the nation so that has helped keep the company going even during the worst of the recession.

Q) Did you ever feel as though the misery would never end?

A) I wouldn’t call the average person’s life in America, including mine, necessarily “misery” during the recession, except, of course, for the many hard-working people whose factories closed and who lost their jobs. I’ve often thought of writing a modern-day version of Hugo’s Les Miserables, but, the truth is, I and most Americans have not really experienced the very worst that life can deal us. Of course, many people in America have been affected to a far greater degree than myself, and I’m sure that they have experienced pretty low levels of misery. Things like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have added to the misery of thousand of people. But, for the most part, all I and my family have felt, as far as misery goes, is having to pay higher bills for food and gas.

Q) So Doug– how do you feel about Obama and the way he handles the country?

A) That’s a tough question in a way, in that I like many of Obama’s policies, though not all. I think of him and any president based on how well he does his job as the president, rather than surface things, like skin color. I like to think that most Americans are either past, or are getting past, any antiquated ideas about judging people based on ethnicity,  religious preference and sexual preference, and the color of their skin. Obama is not perfect, but no man is–I did vote for him both times he ran, as I thought, and still think, he was/is the best man to be the president based on the available choices.

Q) Did Barack influence your book about Bass Reeves (a black Marshall)  or have you always had an interest in that tale?

A) No, Nick; not really, though with a president who is black in office, it is a perhaps fortuitous time for me to have written Crossing The Dead Line. My teenage daughter, Kaitlin, actually suggested that I write a Western, and she gave me a very simple request: “Make it as good as Lonesome Dove and True Grit.” Well, I had never written a Western before, had no idea how to, and no one in mind to write one about. I had dimly heard mention of Bass Reeves, though, and I knew he was a native of Arkansas, where Rooster Cogburn, of True Grit, also lived. So, I was intrigued and started doing research on his life, and I became more and more interested in this fascinating man and his life.

Q) It has been said that our recession had a lot of similarities with “Grapes of Wrath”? As an author how would you stand with that statement?

That’s difficult to truly express, as America is a relatively large country, and people in different states and different circumstances have all had, of course, different experiences riding out the recession. In the worst cases here, say where autoworkers lost their jobs, or other companies closed up and never re-opened, and people got kicked out of their houses because they couldn’t pay their mortgages  I suppose the situation was somewhat like that Steinbeck writes about in “The Grapes of Wrath.” But, as with any country, many people were barely affected at all; everything is relative.

Q) So you feel that America could have gone through a much harder experience of “recession”?

A) Yes, it could have been much worse, in my opinion. For instance, if the auto companies and banks had been “allowed” to fail it would have been much more difficult to try to rebound from that, if we ever could have done so. And, from what I’ve heard, countries like Greece have suffered much worse.

Q) So tell me, how do you publicize your work and what was your most disheartening moment?

A) I utilize House Elves, mostly. I am jonesing so much for J.K. (Rowling) to write more Hogwarts novels, whether with Harry or the offspring of the original characters.  Am I evading the question nicely?

I mostly Tweet to my voluminous Followers (@DouglasRCobb), though I also have a blog, What’s New In Book Reviews http://douglascobb.wordpress.com that I use to get the word out, and my Amazon Author page. Amazon’s KDP Select promo days to let my readers get FREE downloads. The two e-books I have at the bargain low price of just 99 cents and at a low price also there in the UK are My Brother, The Zombie (The Zombie Revolution; Book One) and my latest, Crossing The Dead Line.  I have to rely on my legions of fans to buy these books. My latest in the Lily and PAWS series, Lily and PAWS: Christmas Capers, will be at Amazon very soon, just in time for Christmas, and it will be 99 cents! I just saw the cover today, and it looks great!

My most disheartening moment, well, no author ever likes to receive rejection slips, but that is generally speaking a part of the game of publishing, so I guess the times in the past when I received those, hoping that I would instead by getting a check in the mail, were pretty disheartening. However, I know that what I am writing is good–it’s just that agents and publishers get so deluged with manuscripts every day and week that many good to excellent stories and novels get overlooked in the mix. If you can tell yourself that’s just the way the business operates, it can seem a tad less devastating to get the rejection notices; but, I can’t honestly say it’s ever fun.

Q) Have you considered your books as films?

Only every single day, Nick!  I think that my series The Case Files of Lily and PAWS could be successful hits as either live movies or animated ones, possibly for a studio like Disney, Pixar, or Nickelodeon. My Brother, The Zombie, I believe, would make a great movie combining horror and science fiction, and Crossing The Dead Line cries out to be made into a Western flick.

Q) Do you consider interviews like this crucial to sales?

Oh, yes!  Interviews and book reviews are other fantastic ways for authors to get the word out about their books. The best book ever written might lie unnoticed somewhere not because it’s a piece of crap, but because it hasn’t been noticed by enough people to make it into a commercial success. So, I and all authors definitely owe our fellow authors who are bloggers, like yourself, a word of thanks for agreeing to interview us and sometimes write reviews of our books.

Q) Where can people send fan mail?

Save your postage fees and write me at my email bibliophile1 (at) att.net   If you would like to mail me a letter, though, that’s always welcome, too–especially ones with cash included in them! *laughs*  My address if you’d like to snail mail me is:

Douglas R. Cobb
1112 M Terrace
Barling, AR.
72923

Q) What three items would you take to a desert island?

Well, everyone needs food, but assuming that the island is chock-full of food, my three items would be a pocket knife, writing supplies (okay, so I’m cheating with this, as it conceivably can refer to paper, pencils, pens, a typewriter, a computer–if the island has electricity, etc., anyway–so sue me!), and a Kindle Fire stocked with hundreds of books and movies and tunes–if the place has electricity.  If not, besides the knife and writing supplies–arrgh!–even with them, to be honest, thinking about it, toilet paper is one convenience that I would not like to be without.

I’ll cheat, and make one of my three items a boat (not one with leaks) so I could reach a proper town that has electricity!

Q) Where do you see yourself in ten years?

That depends on how much gas I have in my car, LOL! If I only had an electrical one, I could really go places!  But, honestly, I hope that all of my books will be commercially successful, though they are really labors of love, and I’d keep on writing (probably) if I didn’t sell a single copy!  Don’t let that stop anyone from actually buying them, though.  I am unanimous in my recommendation of them!  I don’t ask for much, in terms of success–if I’m at the head of my own multi-media empire and worth millions, that’s good enough for me.  I will, of course, strive to remain humble, in the midst of the accolades I will undoubtedly receive by the lorry load.

Q) Final question, with all your success– why do you keep working?

A) Ah, success is, as Einstein said about some Space/Time Theorem Thingy, relative.  Poppa needs a Maserati, or at least a Saab or Camaro. Groceries must be bought, and then there’s my immense staff of servants that need to keep the wolves away from their doors…am I wringing any hearts, yet?  I hope so. You can also purchase most of my books in paperback via Amazon–please do–they make great gifts for friends, relatives, yourself, and look fantastic under the Yule tree!

Nick, it’s been a sheer pleasure answering your questions, and I feel proud that I barely flinched when you drove those wooden spikes under my fingernails to get the answers from me, despite my initial insistence on only giving you my name, rank, and serial number!

Thanks,

Douglas R. Cobb,

AVAILABLE NOW!

Lily, Unleashed

Lily and Paws: The Ghosts of Summer

Lily Solves Them All

My Brother The Zombie: (The Zombie Revolution: Book One)

Crossing The Dead Line