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.

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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

A New Career? “Try Writing Books!” says Lloyd Tackitt

Soldier, Construction Project Manager, Author. Lloyd Tackitt has lived and now he is on my blog for an interview. How did I meet Lloyd? Just another fateful meeting when two people start a conversation. I asked Lloyd over for an interview and he replied by asking me when would be a good time? Right now? Okay, lets talk….

Lloyd Tackitt
Q) Nice to meet you, Lloyd! So you’ve written a few books. Which of your works is your favourite?

A) Hi Nicholas, it’s a pleasure to visit with you.

I’ve published three books in a post-apocalyptic slash survival series. The first two books – A Distant Eden and Adrian’s War. They are half survival manual and half novel. I thought it would be interesting to mix real survival instruction with a fictional account of how they were used. The books are getting excellent reviews and selling very well – getting attention mostly by word of mouth. Top reviews have been given for both elements of these books, the instruction element and the story line.

The third book – Eden’s Hammer – is more novel than manual. Survival instructions are finite, at least real ones are. I covered just about everything in the first two books on survival without getting into the esoteric techniques – such as starting a fire with a candy bar and a can of soda. Eden’s Hammer includes tribal scale guerrilla warfare tactics that are explained, but mostly it’s about the adventures of the main character, Adrian Hunter. This book was released the first week of January.

I am writing the fourth book in the series now. I haven’t settled on a title yet. I think this fourth book may be my favorite so far.

Q) What drove you to become a writer and which book was your first release?

A) My first release was A Distant Eden. It was published in March of 2012. The second book Adrian’s War was released in August of 2012, and the third, Eden’s Hammer, in January of 2013.

What drove me to write the first book was a combination of three things. 1. A fascination with the subject of post-apocalyptic survival. 2. The advent of self-publishing at the level it recently reached, making it available to me. 3. I spend three hours per day commuting to and from work, leaving me a lot of time to think about what to write.

What drove me to write the others, and to continue writing, is a love of writing. I have written a considerable number of short stories (available for free at lloydtackitt.com). Those stories eventually led to writing the first novel. My novels, so far, have been on the short side of the classic novel definition, around sixty-thousand words each. My writing style is compressed and direct – nothing florid about it. I try to make every word count and not put any filler or fluff in. I could easily double the length of these books, but the story would be the same story with a lot of window dressing. Not my style.

A Distant Eden

Q) How are the public taking to your work? How are sales?

A) Excellent. Far better than I had dared to hope for. Sales have been truly wonderful and the feedback has been beyond my wildest dreams. I am developing a rapidly expanding reader base, and get emails every day asking when the next story will be available. My answer to that question is – As soon as I can get it finished, polished, and published. I write part-time, my days are very full and leave little time for writing, but I squeeze writing in every chance I get. I’ve published three books in ten months, so you can see that while my writing career is part-time, it is productive.

Q) So your latest release is Edens Hammer. Can you tell me what us a little bit about it?

With no spoilers? Okay, I’ll give it a try. Imagine a man who is in a post-apocalyptic world and has recently lost the love of his life. He has gone off into the mountains to be alone, but ended up in a war with a group of raiders that also practiced cannibalism. He’s just finished that war when his uncle sends word to come home as fast as possible, their entire village – Fort Brazos — is under threat of annihilation. Adrian, the protagonist, rushes home to find a large group of criminals about to descend on his village and overwhelm it with superior numbers and firepower. Adrian assesses the situation and goes into action to save his village. Much more than that and I start to tell the story itself.

Q) Where did the title Edens Hammer come from?

A) I’m not completely sure it’s explainable. Partly because it is a part of the Distant Eden series of course; but also partly because the protagonist, Adrian, is the one man that his family and friends believes can save them. Titles are strange, you try several out, roll them around in your mind for a while and then try some more. When one finally feels right you leave it alone for a few weeks, then try it again and see if it still feels right. Eventually, one feels right and keeps feeling right and you go with it. There’s a lot to the selection process that isn’t rational, more intuitive. Like working out the cover art.

Q) How would you describe the process of writing a book?

A) I’ve written tons of short stories and the books are kind of different and kind of the same. At least the process I follow is– probably different for each writer. First, I think about the story while commuting. I roughly shape it in my head, the introduction phase, the first couple of pinch points, the main crisis and the resolution. These are my guideposts.

When I have that firmly in my mind, I begin writing. The first draft is almost purely spontaneous, letting the characters lead me as I go along. You’ve heard of the characters taking over the story? That’s true for me. Often the characters are out there wandering around getting into and out of trouble and I have no idea what they’re going to be up to next. Other than they follow the general guideposts I mentioned earlier. That’s the first draft.

Once the first draft is complete, then I go back and start re-writing, changing the story here and there, adding and subtracting. That’s the second draft.

When the second draft is complete I go back and really tweak the “close to the ground” part of the story. Re-working dialogue, checking for conformity of details, adding descriptions of places and people.

When that’s complete, I go through it looking for spelling and grammar errors, or clumsy sentences. After that I send it to the editor, get it back from the editor and go through the comment review/approval process. The final version goes to the formatter to get it in shape to upload. I’ll have been working with the cover artist for a few weeks at this point and it should be completed. After formatting is done and cover art is done, I upload it and then start chewing my nails waiting for reviews.

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

A) “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. My all time, number one (with no number two even close) favorite book. Harper Lee creates a world that is completely immersive and inclusive. I cannot read that book without being pulled into it. I’ve read it perhaps fifty or sixty times, trying to understand her writing style – but I always get pulled into the story and can’t see the trees for the forest. Her style is completely invisible, you just can’t see it.

It’s also a story that has every element in it that you could ask for, and the characters become so real that I sometimes think of them when I am recalling family members of long ago.

Q) How many books do you have in mind for release?

A) Total? I have no idea. I am going to start a murder mystery series soon. The Distant Eden series has at least one more book to go– the one I am working on now. I may come back to it later and add more, it’s an open ended world that can be described in story for many books to come.

Adrians War

Q) How was your publishing experience? Would you promote self publishing?

Since I self-publish it’s a peaceful experience. It’s all in my control – other than the amount of time it takes to get material back from editing, formatting and cover art. I can’t control those time frames entirely, but by planning ahead with the various people involved the time is kept to a minimum.

Q) Do you have an editor or do you edit your own work?

A) I’ve worked with editors. I can’t edit my own work objectively. If I tried to self-edit I would never finish a book. I never look at one of my manuscripts without wanting to make changes, and sometimes a lot of them. At some point though you have to let go and move on, and by sending it out to an editor I can make that break while getting objective criticism on the final book. That’s a great way to work. Editors and editing were invented for a reason.

Q) Edens Hammer is out now, correct? Where can people buy it?

It’s out now and can be purchased on Amazon for the Kindle version and CreateSpace for the paperback. The paperback will eventually be available on Amazon also, but that always takes time. A Distant Eden has just been released in audio format as well.

Q) Have you got a website for readers to keep up with your work?

A) I do have a website that has many of my short stories on it. I’m not a computer savvy person so I don’t update the site often with recent news. It’s lloydtackitt.com.

I also have an author’s Facebook page that I can operate so it has more up-to-date information on it. http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLloydTackitt

I also have an email address where readers can correspond with me. I always try to answer within five days and usually do better than that. I’ll answer questions about the books, the upcoming releases, survival, or just about anything other than religion and politics. lloydtackitt@gmail.com

On the subject of politics, I sometimes blog at: libertyauthors.com/index.php/lloydtackitt/

I am also an avid fly fisherman and blog on fishing at: fishexplorer.com on the Texas part of the website.

So! Now, I have to go out and get a copy of Edens Hammer. I’ll do that just as soon as I click the publish button on here! I’m coming, Lloyd!

Patrick McMillan Has a Plan– Nick Wale Interviews Self-Help Author Patrick McMillan

Patrick McMillan is a single parent. In his efforts to be a better parent he devised new lessons and activities to teach his sons. Now he finds himself coaching, writing and promoting his own tips for parenting success. I wanted to meet him– and here is what happened when I did! I present an interview with A-1 dad, Law of Attraction advocate and self-help author Patrick McMillan…

pat

Q) Hi, Patrick! So tell me– why did you write a book?

A) Well, it started off as just a little book of lessons and activities I put together for my two sons and I to do at home together. I was an “at home” parent for just over seven years. It obviously had an impact on them because I was asked by my son’s teacher (following a bullying incident) what I was teaching him and is it something I could teach her whole class? Then the school principal got word of it and asked me to teach the whole school. Then the “light went on” and I realized this is something ALL children need, not just my own, and I felt compelled to share it.

Q) Do you think the American school system fails kids?

A) To a large degree, yes! But where I believe it can be turned around is by making “Character Education” or Social and Emotional Learning a mandatory part of the curriculum in ALL schools.

Q) Tell me about your book. What are you teaching kids?

A) It’s called Discover Your Happiness: A Guide Just For Kids and it teaches children through both reading and experience the true “science of happiness.” The lessons and activities are based upon research in positive psychology and “subjective well-being” and the activities have been proven to boost emotional well-being. It’s designed to help kids develop habits of thinking that lead to lasting happiness.

Q) How are people taking to it? Is it growing daily? What has the public been saying about your work?

A) Well, I just self-published it and I’m working on the “getting the word out” part.

The feedback I’ve received thus far has been amazing! It has been endorsed by some of the biggest names in personal development and parenting/self-esteem.

Q) Your endorsements are impressive! How did you manage to gain such credibility so quickly?

A) I conducted a huge on-line parenting event in 2010 and interviewed twenty-four of some of the world’s leading experts in the field and made some fantastic connections, so I sent the book off to them. In fact, after interviewing Marci Shimoff (Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, Happy for No Reason, The Secret) she called me at home to find out more about my book and asked me if she could endorse it!!

Q) I noticed that you are a natural at making connections with people. Would you say that statement is true?

A) I certainly don’t struggle with it! I’ve been on my own since I was fifteen years old so I learned at a young age how important connections with others really are!

Q) Who would you say has been your biggest supporter so far?

A) Hmmm! That’s a tough one… I would have to say Shelly Lefkoe who I met about six or seven years ago. She and her husband are remarkable at what they do and she was a personal coach and mentor of mine since we met. (http://www.thelefkoeway.com/) Additionally, because of the old adage…”It’s not about who you know, but who they know.” Shelly and her husband are founding members of The Transformational Leadership Counsel– a very select group of some of the most influential and powerful transformational leaders in the world.

Q) You’ve also moved into a new career as a personal coach, correct? How are you taking to that new role?

A) Well, it seems like something I’ve done all of my life, but as a career it developed after sharing my own personal story at several parenting/divorced parenting events  and on radio interviews. Then I started getting contacted about personal coaching, so its turned into more than just “life coaching” because much of it revolves around parenting and raising self-confident and happy kids, but that starts with the parent getting their “happy on” first.

Patrick-McMillan-tiny

Q) Like me, you are, I believe, a great believer in “Law of Attraction,” right?

A) Very much so!

Q) Tell me, how has the “Law of Attraction” changed your life?

A) Understanding it gave me answers as to how I’ve created my life up to this point, and from this moment forward I get to use that knowledge to create for myself the life I want most.

Q) Do you believe people meet for a reason?

A) Energy and Attraction!! I believe these are the reasons people meet.

Q) From our talks you seem to be such a positive, forward-thinking guy. Do you have those dark moments of despair?

A) Certainly! But I’ve noticed clearly how being “positive on purpose” becomes a way of being after a while and it allows me to look at situations differently. I can pull myself out of a bummer mood much sooner than before and with much less effort.

Q) So what would your advice be to people struggling with problems right now?

A) That there is always a different way to look at what seems to be a problem, and intentionally trying to see other ways of looking at things makes them change. Dr. Wayne Dyer has a great saying: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” Also, a problem cannot be solved by focusing on the problem, it just makes more of it. Recognize it, yes, but then its about getting to a better way of thinking and feeling to open up the mind to receiving a solution. Don’t ask “How do I make the problem go away?” because that will come to you when you are in a mindset to receive it.

With our interview over I began to think about the words Patrick had spoken. What good is negativity to life? I think he has the right idea– stay positive and things will indeed get better. If you have been looking down, change your perspective and look up!

To paraphrase from Patrick’s new book– I have this to share with you all…

Discover Your Happiness is a guide for kids filled with lessons and activities to boost emotional intelligence and overall happiness. Research in the “Science of Happiness” proves we can live the happiest we deserve to live if we understand where true lasting happiness comes from…Inside each and every one of us! Discover Your Happiness gives kids the tools and strategies to create for themselves the life every parent wants most for their child…A Happy Life!”

What more could anyone ask for?

Patrick front page

 

Check out Patrick’s book Discover Your Happiness- A Guide For Just Kids

Check out Patrick’s YouTube videos here

Follow Patrick on Twitter here

Stuart Yates is Back! Nick Wale Heralds the Return of Stuart Yates

This will be my third interview with Stuart Yates–a writer’s writer and a man who seems to have endless ideas for books. I was impressed with our last interview. Stuart is a writer and he writes almost every day. It matters not if he has sales, and over our conversations I have realised how wonderful it must be to just write for the joy of writing. When you see a guy like Stuart who has sometimes sold only one or two copies of a book, you wonder why he keeps doing it? He has his fans and he has a deep love for his work. He might be writing for a select audience, but those people sit up and love his work. That is the best part of anything– knowing that your work is appreciated by someone. I present to you my third outing with Stuart Yates.

Stuart Yates

Q) Tell me, have you enjoyed our interviews so far?

A) Yes, very much so.

Q) How many interviews have you done over your writing career?

A) About writing? Quite a few, but yours have been my favourites.

Q) You had an accident on your bike recently, right? Tell me what happened!

A) Ah…well…it was raining, very hard, and it hadn’t rained for a while, so the road was very slippery. I just lost control. Simple as that.

Q) How long till you recover?

A) Well…not sure. Perhaps a week. I’ve torn the ligaments in my arm, busted up both knees. Very painful, but I’m okay. Nothing is broken! My arm is in a sling, so it is hard to do very much at all, really.

Q) Have you managed to fit some writing time in?

A) Well, funnily enough, I had a sudden spurt of inspiration! So, yes, I’ve managed it, but very slowly with one finger of my right hand. My left one is incapacitated. I’m working on a new thriller, which is coming along very nicely. Once I start thinking of scenarios, it is difficult to stop.

Q) You’re a creative powerhouse!

A) A creative powerhouse? Well…when an idea takes hold, it does tend to take over.

Q) Tell me more about your latest thriller.

A) This one is set in the near future, when the world is massively over-populated. The sea-levels are rising and the politicians decide to take somewhat drastic action.

Q) What do they do?

A) They create a smoke screen– they get a real duffer of a policeman to investigate a murder, so that the world will focus in on that. Meanwhile, they put together an elaborate plan to end everybody’s problems. It’s a simple fact that in a generation the population of the planet will be 10 billion people and we cannot sustain those numbers! That’s the thread of the story. It’s not nice, and it has no happy ending– but it is good fun!

Q) How has the world changed since you started writing?

A) In so many ways! I used to type on an old Olivetti portable, using masses of correction fluid and carbon paper. I longed to be like Dashiel Hammett, writing well into the night! Then, of course, you send it away with return postage and wait for half a lifetime for it to be returned. Not like today, of course! Everything is so much faster! [The writing process is] still tinged with frustration and disappointment though. That much hasn’t changed! The rejection slips still mount up, only this time they are in the form of e-mails.

Q) How often do you get rejected?

A) A lot! I have written what I think is a wonderful story, and it has gone to maybe thirty agents, all of whom have rejected it. A publisher liked it, read it all, but decided not to go ahead because my hero was too weak. Poor man. So now my latest manuscript is with Harper Collins and some agents in the States. We will see.

Q) Have you been rejected by Harper Collins before?

A) Yes!!! Years and years ago, when you could submit directly to them. Nowadays, they won’t look at you without an agent, but late last year they threw open their doors to ‘open submissions’. They received 4500 of them!!! Mine hasn’t been rejected YET…

Q) What is so important about a signing with Harper Collins?

A) Because they are HUGE!!! They assign an editor to you, do the marketing, publicity, arrange interviews (wink wink) and press-releases. They are a major international publishing house and are fully equipped to take you forward in your career. When the opportunity came to submit, I simply had to. I had made some changes after the feedback from the publisher who had rejected me, so I feel it’s a better product. It is the first part of a trilogy. I’ve already written the second, and the third is planned.

Q) What would you deem a hit?

A) A hit? For me? Anything over ten copies sold makes me happy. I just got my royalty cheque for Burnt Offerings. I made a whopping five pounds!

Q) You’ve had a book that didn’t sell even one copy?

A) Yes!!! Of course. Death’s Dark Design has sold NIL and my trilogy of animal tales set on Alderney have sold NIL. Now I find that Interlopers From Hell, which I expected to do better, hasn’t sold a single copy. Do I care? Not really. You write for the love of it. Not for the royalty checks or the fame. I don’t worry! I am a published author and that’s what counts.

Q) How do you cope with such a lack of success?

A) How do I cope? What a question. I have a wonderful capacity to simply shut out bad vibes, bad news, setbacks, etc., unless, of course, they are personal. I simply just get on with the next one. What more can you do? They have been edited professionally, they are well produced, the covers are good… AND, the stories are good, too. So, I simply carry on.

Q) Do you ever get fan mail?

A) What is fan mail? I have had some lovely comments from people, yes. Some people have done reviews on my books, people I don’t know, and that is tremendous. I have seen people make comments about my blogs. Nobody then goes and buys a book. Well, not enough to make any kind of difference. I keep telling myself ‘this is the one’ after I have finished a book. So far, it isn’t!!! Still, what does it matter? I’ve thought about opening up a little Bed and Breakfast in northern France or working in a museum, telling visitors about the exhibits– anything to keep me going artistically. I could put some of my books on the counter.

I remember once I was at a fair here in Spain. I had a little stall with my books on and I was giving away bookmarks–really cool they were– however, they didn’t have my face on them, which is always a good selling point. I handed one to some guy and he looked at it and said, ‘No, I’m not interested.’ I smiled, ‘But you do read, don’t you, sir? You could use that, it’s absolutely free.’ ‘No’, he said, and gave it me back. I was so downhearted. I haven’t been there since– I’ve even tried to give my books away at work! Nobody wants them. Maybe three or four of the forty-odd staff have read my books, and they have all liked them. Two of them wrote stonking (that means “good” for the American readers) reviews on Amazon.

One girl loved the book I gave to her, and she wanted to read more, so she has. Another good friend has helped me with editing. She’s a brilliant teacher, and literacy is her strong point. But another I had to virtually beg to read it. It was FREE for crying out loud. She just looked at me and shook her head.

Q) Tell me Stuart, do you know that your work is good?

A) Yes, I know my work is good, even though I rarely admit to that. I’m naturally very modest. I hate putting myself forward, that is why I find all this marketing and promotion business so difficult!

People find that extraordinary when they find out about my background in acting. But, like I try to tell them, that was not ME up there on that stage. That was a character. Being ME is extremely difficult.

Q) Tell me about your acting career.

A) Well, I sort of stumbled into it really. I was unemployed – AGAIN – and went on a government sponsored scheme as a youth-worker in a local rep theatre. Wow, the people I met there. So talented! Outstanding musicians and actors. I had a great time. We used to go around local special schools and put on plays for the kids. It was brilliant. I used to help out in the theatre in the evenings and got into acting properly that way. I went down to London for an audition and I got in !!!

I’ve always wanted to be an actor, perhaps for longer than I’ve wanted to be a writer. I started up my own theatre group with some friends. We won lots of competitions. I was voted best actor twice in one of the most prestigious acting competitions on Merseyside. Then I went to university, and did Drama as part of my degree. All of that taught me a lot about good dialogue pacing, tension, all of that. It was a great time in my life and I still keep in touch with some of my old friends.

Q) So your acting indirectly shaped your writing?

A) Definitely! I was always very intuitive as an actor, and I am as a writer. I just go with it, I don’t think about it too much. Sometimes, thinking gets in the way. I’m like that as a teacher, too. I can’t be doing with following plans, even though in my writing I do have a very loose plan but, it is a plan that develops as the story unfolds.

Q) How would you describe your writing?

A) Pacey, spicey, with lots of twists

Q) Do you enjoy writing sex scenes?

A) Wow!!! Dear me…er…well…Mm, what do I say to that? Yes, in short! As long as they have place in the story, why not?

Q) Has writing sex scenes made you a better lover?

A) Er…mm…they’ve certainly made me more thoughtful. The research is great !!! I don’t want you to get the wrong idea! Hey, James Bond wouldn’t be who is is without all that spice!!! I don’t write erotica…just a little sprinkling of good, wholesome fun ! And besides, writing about vicious gangsters who blow people’s legs off hasn’t made me a better killer! I deal with story-making which is fiction and fantasy. None of it is real. Although I have met some pretty gruesome characters and they populate the pages of my books quite a lot!

Q) So what was the last great book you read?

A) The last ‘great’ book I read…I re-read Of Mice and Men just before Christmas, and it blew me away as usual. That is what I would class a ‘great’ book! The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas left me feeling dazed by its brilliance. I read that a few months ago and No Country for Old Men. Now there was a book and a half. Wow. I was in awe of that. I’ve read lots of others, but none that I would term ‘great’. At the moment, I’m reading about William II as part of the research for a historical novel I’ll be getting down to in the summer

Q) What’s this new historical novel called?

A) My book has a working title of ‘Arrow From the Mist’ or something like that, but that might change.

Q) What’s the historical book about?

A) William II was killed in a hunting ‘accident’ in the New Forest in 1100. He had become separated from the main group. He was found dead, with an arrow sticking out of him. The arrow belonged to a knight called Walter Tyrel who promptly disappeared. Henry, William’s brother, quickly seized the throne…and here’s the interesting bit! He never ordered any investigation into his brother’s death; Tyrel was allowed to leave the country, and his family were awarded top jobs in the government so, was it an accident, or was he murdered on the orders of his brother? It’s a real mystery, that will never be solved. BUT, my story puts a nice little twist on it because it wasn’t Tyrel OR Henry…it was somebody else…or maybe two people… or three… who knows!!! You’ll have to read it and see! I just can’t wait to start it!

With our interview over, I left Stuart to his work. He loves his work and it shows through with every ounce of his being. I think you will discover him one day. Perhaps today? You will go and pick up a Stuart G. Yates novel and read until you are satisfied. Stuart will be satisfied, too– he will have gained another new reader. Adios till we meet again!

Stu YatesSee my other inerviews with Mr Yates here and here!

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!