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.

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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.

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!

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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!

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Karina Gioertz Talks Novels, Writing and Writer’s Daydreams! An Interview with Nick Wale

I had an email from a young lady the other day. I receive all kinds of emails but the ones I enjoy most, however, are when people ask me to interview them. Karina Gioertz asked me for an interview and how could I say no? I am proud to present Karina Gioertz to you!

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Q) Nice to meet you, Karina! So tell me– how did you get into writing?

A) Starting with the big question, I see! Well, I’ve actually been writing for as long as I can remember. Even as a child I loved making up my own little stories and filling my notebooks with them. As I got older I moved on to Poetry. My writing just sort of kept evolving, and in 2011, I finally wrote my first novel.

Q) Tell me about your early stories. What did you write about? What set your imagination on fire?

A) As a child? All of my stories revolved around animals. The first one I can remember was about a cat named Daisy. I think it’s because I always wanted a pet but my mother wouldn’t allow it, so I created my own, so to speak.

Q) What have you been up to lately? Any new book releases?

A) I released two books back-to-back last month. One is a Thriller called Blood Bound and the other is a YA Romance called This Christmas.

Q) Tell me about Blood Bound! Where can people get it? What’s it about?

A) Blood Bound is the story of three cousins who have been estranged for over a decade but who must come together as they seek justice for one of their own. It’s about greed and corruption as well as redemption and strength of a family bond. It is currently only available as an E-book on Amazon, but will also be out as a paperback in the coming weeks.

Q) It sounds interesting to me! Do you believe self publishing is the future of publishing?

A) I’m not sure I know the answer to that. I definitely still have a lot to learn about this business, but I do feel that self-publishing is creating huge possibilities for authors who might not be able to share their work otherwise.

Q) Do you write to satisfy your own creative need? Do you write to make money? Why does Karina Gioertz write?

A) I write because if I didn’t my head would explode! My brain never seems to shut down. Creating characters and making up stories is just what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. There isn’t a moment of my day when I’m not lost in some crazy thought or another. When I write, I feel like I’m directing those thoughts a bit more and using them more productively than if they just drifted off, turning into just another random daydream.

Q) So how do you write? Do you like music in the background? Do you like silence? What do you need to write?

A) I usually write late at night. I can’t have any background chatter, real or TV, because I automatically tune into what I’m hearing. However, I do love to play my music. I have a special writing mix I turn on before I get started and it helps me disconnect a bit from the real world so I can get sucked in by whatever story it is I’m working on.

Q) Many writers tell of getting lost in their work and “waking up” hours later wondering where the time went. Do you ever get lost in your writing?

A) All the time. There are those times when the story just flows and you lose track of everything else. I love those moments. That’s when I do my best work.

Q) Can you tell non-writer readers what it feels like to finish a manuscript?

A) Are there words to describe it?! It’s incredible! There is nothing better than writing that final sentence and following it up with ‘The End’. To know that you were able to take those first few sentences, those random first notes and ideas and turn them into an entire world, filled with characters who feel more like friends and events you didn’t even see coming until you wrote them in, is exciting. There’s nothing else like it. The second I finish, I want to turn around and do it all over again!

Q) So, going back– what’s This Christmas about? Where can people find it?

A) This Christmas is also available on Amazon. It’s about a young woman who realizes she’s in love with her best friend after her college roommate shows interest in him. Naturally there are complications that lead to awkward moments, misunderstandings and surprise encounters under the mistletoe.

Q) I think it sounds like an interesting and romantic tale! Are you working on a current project?

A) Yes, I am. This time, I’m giving fantasy a try.

Q) Can we have a few sneaky secrets about your new project for our readers, please?

A) Oh, all right, I can’t tell you much, but I will say that there will be an array of recognizable characters guiding a brand new generation no one has ever met of or heard of before. There will be magic, mystery and adventure…and perhaps even a touch of love.
Q) Love’s alright isn’t it! So which of your books do you consider your favourites?

A) My first is still my baby. I love Blood Bound, but Country Girls will always be closest to my heart.

Q) Which writers do you personally enjoy?

A) My mother got me hooked on Sydney Sheldon many years ago. He is my all time favorite!

Q) If you could have written any book by any author, which would it have been?

A) Harry Potter. To have been able to create that world and those characters with such detail…that had to have been incredible.

Q) I agree with you there! So Karina, why should readers choose your books to read with so many on the market?

A) It is my hope that I have created loveable characters and put them in entertaining predicaments; that I have been able to address serious issues while still finding the humor and that no matter how low I may go, I always end on a high note.

Q) What do you like doing outside of writing? Any hobbies?

A) When I’m not writing, I do a lot of painting. I like to refurbish old furniture and turn worn and battered pieces other people are throwing out into beautiful pieces of art.

We wrapped up there and Karina went back to writing her latest work. I enjoyed my time with her and I hope you enjoy this interview. Karina is a driven girl and I am sure there will be many, many books to come!

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Check out Karina’s other books as well!

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Follow Karina on her wonderful blog, FriedGatorTail, here!

The World of Pure Imagination– Nick Wale Interviews Upcoming Fantasy Author Bex Pavia

Today I interviewed a woman who just couldn’t say no to writing the book deep inside of her. After many attempts and learning curves she sat down to write. The words flowed out from deep within her imagination and now she has almost completed the first one of her creations. I present an interview with fantasy author Bex Pavia.

Q) So you are currently working on your first book, Bex. What is it called?

A) It’s called Marcus Ryan & The Sanctum of Souls, currently. As it’s the first book in a series, that may be open to slight alteration.

Q) So what drove you to write a book?

A) Well, like many authors, I’d dreamed of writing a book for as long as I could remember. However, also like many authors, I had put it off, quit after a couple of chapters (maximum), and generally never really committed to anything. Then, at the beginning of 2012, the idea for this story quite literally came to me in a flash of inspiration. It continued to grow and push its way into my mind, until ignoring it was no longer an option; the book just ‘had’ to be written.

Q) You felt that you had to give birth to your first work? How does it feel to have that feeling of growing “creativity” inside you?

A) Ha, yes ‘giving birth to it’ is a good way of putting it; it’s definitely my baby. It might sound a bit like a bad line from a cheesy movie, but it’s like something I’ve never experienced before, almost spiritual. It’s certainly changed the way I feel about a lot of things, including myself.

Q) I think a lot of writers would get how you feel. How can you best describe the changes for readers?

A) Cor blimey, talk about tricky questions! Well, to try to put it as simply as possible, it’s just a greater sense of self awareness I think, plus a huge dash of extra confidence thrown in. That’s how it feels to me, anyway.

Q) So are you a naturally confident person?

A) Hmm, some would say I am, though I think I’m just a good actress at times. Personally, I think I have a lot of self-doubt, which impairs any natural confidence I might have, if that makes sense.

Q) It does. So how do you personally feel about your work?

A) At times I love it, at times I dislike it a little bit. What can I say, I’m prone to mood swings.

Q) That’s the creativity whirling around! Do you consider writing as an art?

A) Absolutely!

Q) So how has the public taken to your work so far?

A) From the snippets I’ve shared, pretty favourably I think. The decision to set up a Facebook page as a way to garner some interest and pre-publishing has been a good one. People seem to like what they see. I can’t ask for more than that.

Q) I myself have read snippets and loved them! So what is Marcus Ryan & The Sanctum of Souls” about?

A) Now, here is where I may stumble over my words; I’m not great with summing this story up. Basically, it’s set in a fantasy world of a bygone era. In that world a young man, born with magic coursing through his veins, spends the majority of his life actively avoiding magic for reasons he can’t explain. He doesn’t take life particularly seriously until the day a stranger, with no emotions, introduces him to a past he never knew existed. Discovering even his own soul is unknown to him– he must take on the responsibility of saving an ancient race and ending the reign of a present evil.

Q) Sounds interesting– that really is a creative book. How long have you been working on it?

A) Thank you. I started planning, at least in my head, sometime around February last year. I didn’t actually start writing until June-July.

Q) How do you write? With music? Silence?

A) Depends a bit on the scene. I use music a LOT for inspiration, or to simply set the mood. Certain sections of the book have been much easier to write with epic music blaring into my ears from my over-sized headphones. At other times, I’ve only been able to complete a piece of writing in complete silence.

Q) Sounds like a wonderland of creativity. Who are your favourite authors? Do you try to write in their style or have you created a style of your own?

A) It is probably a terrible thing to admit, but I’m actually more of a movie-buff than a reader. That’s it, authors everywhere will be throwing their hands up in the air, reciting the mantra, ‘one must read lot to write better’! I DO love books though, and obviously I’ve read a few. I guess the authors I like range from my childhood favourites, Roald Dahl and Rudyard Kipling, to those I’ve read as an adult, such as James Herbert and of course, Tolkien. Does my style emulate any of theirs? No, probably not. If it’s like anyone’s, it’s a writer I’ve come to love very recently, David Gaider. He primarily writes for video games but his fantasy books (from said games) definitely inspired me a great deal. I’d like to think I can write as well as he does. Generally though, I do think my style is my own.

Q) So you’re a video games fan? Do you get time to play many?

A) I make time. Yes, I love RPG’s. Those are instant gratification for the fantasy writer, I believe.

Q) So how do you spend your spare time? Other than playing games and writing, do you have other hobbies?

A) With three children, too, that is about all I can fit in. I’m lucky to have very understanding kids.

Q) Indeed! So how do you find juggling being a mother and a writer?

A) As I said, they are very accepting of the writer in me. They aren’t babies anymore so they do a lot for themselves. However, I also home educate my eldest two, so that has to take precedence over my writing. We have a pretty easy-going set-up in our house, so I can’t complain.

Q) What comes next after Marcus Ryan & The Sanctum of Souls? Another book perhaps?

A) In theory. Sanctum if Souls is the first of a planned series. I have a general idea for the subsequent books, though how many there will be is uncertain at this stage. As for titles… not even contemplated.

Q) You’re planning to self publish, right? Did you turn away from publishing houses for a reason?

A) Yes, I am. I guess I just live by the motto that life is far too short. Originally, as a complete newcomer to the literary world, I’d insisted there was no way I’d consider self-publishing; I wanted a publishing house to acknowledge that my work was up to scratch. Then I researched the process as it stands these days and discovered that years can be spent even getting a manuscript looked at, let alone accepted, and that’s with an agent. I returned to focus on my dream, to simply have a published book, and decided that life IS far too short to waste years only to perhaps never get anywhere close. Self-publishing seemed the logical path to choose given what I wanted to achieve.

Q) Where can people keep up with your progress? I’m sure there are a lot of fantasy readers who will be excited to read your work.

A) The main place I share my progress with this book is on Facebook. I do also have a blog where I share other things I’ve written, poems, etc. 

Q) Wonderful! Well thank you for your time, Bex! I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself during our interview!

A) Thank you, Nick, and yes, it wasn’t anywhere near as terrifying as I thought.

I sometimes wonder how terrifying I can be? I guess I just have a grizzly edge! However, I am glad that Bex Pavia enjoyed our interview because I enjoyed it, too! Follow this author guys! You won’t regret it!