Thursday, May 21, 2020

Catching Up With Writer Roy Huff @realroyhuff


It's been some time since we've had a chance to chat with prolific writer Roy Huff. He's been very busy and has brilliant new work available as well as on the way. So we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to catch up.

Welcome back, Roy. Please tell us what you've been up to.

I have several projects I've been working on for the last three years. Two rough drafts are complete, and I'm working on a third project, a space opera. I've revamped my website, including offering a free short. 

I'm also working on completing the audiobooks for the last two books in the Everville series. 



So during the next nine months, I expect to release three new books and five audiobooks, two of them for books already released. I had taken a detour from fiction after publishing my first nonfiction book, so it's nice to get back to it. 

Before the lockdown, I spent breaks traveling to Europe and Asia, and I plan to get back to it, once the 14-day quarantine in Hawaii, where I live, is removed.

I had a trip to Milan for Spring Break that was canceled. I will get back there. I travel to Japan a lot, my wife and daughter being Japanese, so I will get back there again soon. The only question is when. 

Moving forward. I'm planning on pushing the space opera book into a series, and I think the time travel book has the potential for a series as well. We shall have to see. 

Wow, that's great, really a lot of productivity. Talk a bit about your daily schedule and how and when you make time for writing, whether it be crafting new prose or doing what it takes to create the audiobooks you mentioned. A lot of people have things they want to do yet find themselves stuck in a perpetual state of wanting to rather than being in the preferred state of actually doing. So please share a bit about how you personally overcome this.

Effective use of daily time is something I wrote extensively about in my non-fiction book, Think Smart Not HardI have an early morning routine that starts usually around 4 AM, and I complete my number one and two tasks usually before 6:30 AM. This was something I gravitated towards out of necessity after a divorce five years ago. I needed to be on top of my game and set a good example for my daughter. I needed the energy, and the mental fortitude. 

Five years ago, I gave up drinking, and began to get in the habit of daily at home workouts, usually less than ten minutes. I also gave up fast food because of the high calorie density, and lost 44 pounds in 44 weeks once I did. I've kept most of it off, only putting 15 pounds back on as muscle. I also sleep earlier. Generally, I sleep by 9 PM so I can get at least seven hours of sleep. This provides me more focus and energy, so regardless of what I do for the remainder of the day, I've pushed ahead with my plan. 

As far as audiobooks. I waited for the last two books in the Everville series because of a contract I had with my agent, but that's since expired. I've decided I'd rather, at least at the moment, push forward independently for the series. So my process for audiobooks is simply a general audition on ACX/Audible with split royalties to avoid up-front cost. I've experimented with several marketing strategies, and have a general idea on what can work. 

I've also focused on improving my writing craft. The more you know, the more you realize what you don't know. I've taken a varied approach, but the general rule is I simply write more frequently and read more frequently. I read more in my genre, and I also read books on writing. So my three key strategies are to systemize, improve, and publish. I haven't published nearly as much as I'd like in the last three years since my last book, so it's time to get more out there and publish with more regularity. 

I think one way to "do" instead of "want to do" is to take baby steps, but take them consistently. Develop habits by removing as much resistance as possible. Commit to one push-up a day for three months. Commit to writing one sentence a day for three months. Commit to writing a daily journal for one minute for three months. Anchor the habits to an existing routine, and then gradually increase the commitment once you've developed the habits. Forgiving yourself is also essential. So it's a combination of developing a growth mindset, effective habits, and iteration that helps the most. 

I'm by no means perfect and frequently screw up my routine. But forgiving myself when I do is essential to banishing shame and embracing possibility. I've always considered myself an optimist, so that helps. But it can sometimes blind me to what needs to be done, so seeking out mentors and those who've walked the path before helps highlight blind spots. 

That's all very good, cogent, practical advice. And your candor is much appreciated. I used to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to train before going to work but I wouldn't get home from work until 7pm or so and by 8pm I was fried and stressed out about going to bed on time. I began pounding a Bang energy drink each morning to help me wake up early, but by Thursday for Friday night, I was exhausted and my inner five-year-old would come to the surface and take me on a whirlwind eating binge. And with less sleep but continued quantities of intense training and daily activities, I found myself catching colds regularly. So I ultimately stopped getting up quite so early. Thankfully, we're no longer involved in the daily commute thing so I can use those two extra hours per day for other things.

You mentioned your agent and finding a mentor. Talk a little about your experience with the traditional publishing route, finding an agent, and your general thoughts on the state of the publishing industry today, both indie and legacy.

Regarding traditional publishing, it has its place. But I like the flexibility of doing things on my own, primarily because of swiftness and control. Authors are also expected now to do the bulk of the marketing even if traditionally published. 

There are still benefits. I think seeking legitimacy and other people's approval is a big part of going the traditional route. 

But being an independent thinker, I've always thought obsessing about what other people think is no way to live. 

I realize authors should think about their readers, but typically, engaging authors are most like their readers in terms of interest, so I think it's less of an issue than most people realize. That said, both routes can provide value, but focusing on the traditional route was what delayed my initial foray in the writing world in the first place because I found it so daunting. 100% of zero is still zero. So I think for many people, it might be a good way to get started. You can't get feedback unless you write something. And if something is keeping you from writing, it might be time to think about ways to get around those obstacles. 

Both industries will continue to evolve and adapt. And as authors, we must be willing to do the same. As an independent author, one has the flexibility to adapt quickly. And while you may lack the resources of the larger outfits, agility in a fast-changing marketplace is at a premium. 

That said, quality is important. But you have to give yourself permission to fail and permission to write badly if you're going to accomplish much in the writing world. The key thing is to learn from constructive feedback, failure, and allow yourself to move on. Developing a plan and a system, or at least having someone develop it for you, can work wonders. 

Regarding the quality issue, you're spot-on. The marketplace is now flooded with books because the previous barriers to entry have been taken down due to the ease of self-publishing today. Talk about your quality control process. Do you have an editor you like and work with on each new project? Do you have a cover designer? Do you employ beta readers, perhaps such as through an online platform like betareader.io?

I use Damonza.com for my covers. A quality cover is essential. I think in many cases it's actually more important than the book. I use both beta readers and numerous editors. You can't have too many eyes on a project, but you should also give yourself a deadline, otherwise, procrastination through perfection will sabotage you. Finding quality editors is a struggle. But you can use multiple editors to focus on specific areas and still spend much less than a traditional editor. 

There will always be a few things that are missed (which can later be corrected), but I think having a minimum of two editors, preferably three, works the best. I generally wait to get feedback on structure until I finish my first draft, and then I can make major changes. After the "final" draft is done, I generally have several to dozens of beta readers look through it before the final draft is published. I used to get my Beta Readers through Goodreads, and I still visit there occasionally, but I have a network now that can begin once I'm ready. 

That's a good segue to your books. You mentioned that the box set of Everville is now available, the audiobooks, the new space opera short, and the new book.

Give us a rundown of the space opera and the forthcoming book.

Currently, only the audiobooks for Everville books 1 & 2 are available, but audiobooks 3 and 4 should be available in about 6-8 weeks. The boxed set is now available on Amazon, and I also have a free Space Opera short available on my website.



The next two books will be released over the summer. The first, Time Traveler: The Loop Back, will be published in late June. 

The as-of-yet untitled space opera will be released in late July or early August.

The audiobooks for both will be released roughly six weeks later. I have more down the pike as well, but those projects and dates are subject to change. 

For Time Traveler: The Loop Back, you'll have an interesting take on time travel. I don't want to give too much away, but it combines elements you may have seen in Quantum Leap and Doctor Who, without getting into specifics. The Space Opera book will use time dilation as a focal point of the plot. You'll have to wait until the blurb is published for more. 

That's a great outro. And a lot of great writing from which to choose. Bravo, Roy, on your productivity.

Be sure to visit Roy's website to purchase your copy today!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Brand New Book!!!

Set in Israel in the 1970s, this heartwarming tale follows the incredible adventures of seven-year-old Taliya and her family. From meatballs and mango trees to surprisingly durable flutes and neighborhood bullies, Taliya proves that every challenge is an opportunity to shine. And in so doing, she reminds us to laugh, to bless, to love, and to cherish life. Inspired by miraculous true events, it's a wholesome and delightful story the entire family can enjoy.

Available now on Amazon!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Seven Questions with Writer Michael Gunter





Seven Questions
with
Writer

Michael Gunter

author of

An Untamed Life:
an Introduction
to the Difficult and Dangerous
Way of Christ




Today's Author Spotlight features Michael Gunter.



Michael is an independent writer. He is a graduate of Charleston Southern University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He published his first book on the Christian life, A Life Not Wasted, with Gazelle Press in 2005. He is a songwriter, electric guitarist, and author of six novels.
We first spoke with Michael in 2012 for his novel Blackwell. And then again in 2013 for his novel Defying Gravity. We're thrilled to have him back once more to discuss his new book, a work of nonfiction, The Untamed.

1. Tell us about your new book The Untamed, what it's about, and how it came into fruition.

The Untamed is first and foremost about Jesus Christ and the kind of life He expects of those who follow Him, but it isn't a rehash of old Sunday School lessons and tips about Christian Living. You could say it's the side of Jesus seldom mentioned in Christian conversations. It's the Jesus who makes people nervous and says things people don't like to hear. There's a quote by Dorothy Sayers that inspired the title: "The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore--on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him 'meek and mild' and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies." In a word, Jesus was (and is) Untamed and I believe He wants us to follow Him into an Untamed kind of life and produce in us the character to match. That's the kind of Jesus I want to know and follow...even though He frightens me. 

It was not my intention to publish this book at first. I wrote it in an attempt to find the answer to a question that began to haunt me in 2016: What if there's more to the Christian life than we think? When I returned to the familiar words of Christ and His apostles with that question in mind, I found myself shaken to my core and rethinking the way I viewed God, Jesus and my own life. In July of 2018, I resigned from my career as an associate pastor for spiritual reasons I could not fully explain. I took a job at a grocery store and dedicated myself to reading God's Word and any book recommended to me by the people I trusted with my situation. Writing did bring clarity, but it also confirmed my suspicions that my earlier view of Christ was incomplete and lopsided. After more than 30 years as a Christian, a more complete and accurate image of Christ had emerged. When I shared the first draft of The Untamed with a few friends - just to let them know what I was going through - I was surprised by their encouragement to publish it. To be honest, I'm still a little nervous about this; not about whether people will like it, but about what comes next as I actually try to follow my Untamed Lord in this Untamed life. I'm in it now. There's no going back. 

2. Regarding that taming and paring, what do you think was the reason (or reasons) behind doing so? Why has the Lion of Judah been relegated to house-cat status?

That happened a long time ago, so I can only speculate on the initial motivation. Based on my own experience and observation, I think it comes down to what we want out of God. We want a Savior, but not so much a Lord. We want a God who will get us out of trouble, but not One who intends to change us. We want a God who comes when we call Him--a God who will comfort and entertain us--but is content to stay out in the yard most of the day. We like the idea of Christ as Servant much more than Christ as Master and King. We could get into how the church wants to present Christ in an appealing, non-threatening way in order to attract people to Him, but it's still a reflection of the kind of God we want and what we want Him to do for us. If you get right down to it, we want a God we can manage and will work for us. We don't want a God who might ask us to sell all our possessions or do something dangerous. 

3. Interesting. Kind of like when you resigned from your post at the church after ten years. What was everyone’s reaction to that? What did they say when you went to work at the grocery store? What was YOUR reaction to that?

My resignation occurred during a tumultuous time in the life of that church. Five staff members left in four month's time. I don't know how many church members left, but the number was significant. Reactions to my resignation varied. Those who knew me best understood what I was going through spiritually. I am still close with some of them. Most just thought I was part of the exodus. All in all, it felt a lot like a break-up. There was confusion, hurt feelings, even some anger. I am sure some felt like I had abandoned them. Working at the grocery store created some awkward encounters. Hardly a day passed that I did not see someone from the church. They would approach me, ask how I was doing (like I'd been given some bad news), and then neither of us would know what to say. I imagine many of them thought I'd lost my mind or maybe my faith. I put on my best face, but I too felt like something was wrong with me. I'd wandered into the wilderness. I was lost. I was letting my family down. I never doubted my decision, but I still felt like I was off course. It's been a tough year, but it enabled me to go...or maybe it forced me into the place I needed to be to write The Untamed

4. How did the writing process begin? Was there a premise you wanted to explore? Or a question you hoped to answer? In writing fiction, there is often a scene or a character with which to start. How did you start The Untamed?

The untamed as a concept was in my mind long before I knew what to call it. Growing up in Alaska and Nevada, I've always had an affinity for bigness, grandeur and majesty. I've always been attracted to things that exist outside the normal routines of everyday life...beyond the managed systems of the civilized world. I have been sensitive to that for as long as I can remember. The word untamed first appeared in my writing about a decade ago when a character in one of my novels used it to describe what he felt as he gazed out at the vastness of the high desert plains of central Wyoming. The moment I saw it written, I knew it was the word I had been searching for to refer to that feeling and sense of longing I had always known. Once I had the word, it didn't take long for me to start using it in my thoughts about God. I should point out that untamed is not the same as wild. The untamed God cannot be manipulated or controlled. He lives and moves and acts according to His own will. However, He is not unruly or reckless. Even Christ, in all of His untamed glory, was careful to declare His submission to the will of His Father. 

You could say the writing process for The Untamed began in my childhood. Those first sensations of it were planted when I looked in wonder at that Alaskan wilderness. With maturity of faith and the development of my writing, the concept emerged in novel form. Then my resignation from my church position last year acted as the catalyst to bring it fully into view. The premise of The Untamed is this Untamed God who manifested Himself in the Untamed Person of Christ in order to call His people to follow Him into an Untamed Life. That's what I wanted to explore. 

5. What, if any, were your literary influences prior to and while writing The Untamed? What type of research did you find yourself engaged in?

I read a lot of non-fiction in the last year; mostly books on Christian spirituality. The books that are most relevant to The Untamed are The School of Christ by T. Austin-Sparks and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A' Kempis. Add to that list Dorothy Sayers's Letter to a Diminished Church and selected passages from C. S. Lewis. I also read a lot of the Bible. Other than that, I didn't do any research beyond pulling from my own experience in the church and reflecting on the words of Christ. 

6. Through everything that's happened in the past year, the changes, the reading, the reflection, the soul searching, the writing... what have you learned?

I've learned that God does not exist for me, but I exist for Him. I know that should be obvious to every follower of Christ, but I really get it now. I am no longer a Christian for what I get out of it - salvation, peace, joy, fellowship, the promise of heaven. I belong to God and serve at His good pleasure. That shift in perspective changes everything. It means I no longer expect God to reveal Himself a certain way or act the way I want Him to. It means I stop complaining when I don't get my way. It means I accept discomfort and inconvenience as par for the course. I'm still working on the proper attitude towards suffering. It means an increase in my risk tolerance. It means I relinquish ownership of time, money, relationships, plans for the future. Now, I am not saying I have all this down yet. Old habits die hard. But a year into it, I see change. I'm involved in a few things now that I would’ve declined a year ago simply because they would have made me uncomfortable or infringed upon my schedule. You could say I'm walking a very different path. This brings up another lesson: If you're going to write something like this, you’d better be ready to back it up. I've been challenged more than once to prove that I really believe what I wrote.

7. What do you hope to accomplish with this book and who is the target audience?
  
It is my hope and prayer that The Untamed provokes some deep soul-searching. I want to challenge the Christian pop-culture and encourage a more accurate view of God, Jesus and the Christian Life. I want my readers to take seriously all of Jesus' words - His difficult words as well as His comforting words. And then I want them to actually adjust their lives to the call of Christ to follow Him no matter where He leads them. You'll notice that I've subtitled the book "An Introduction to....." This book is certainly not the final word on the subject. I'm only a year into the untamed myself. I expect there will be a lot more written about it. 

My target audience for this book is the person who has been a Christian for awhile and senses something isn't quite right. Maybe they haven't been "#blessed" and wonder if something might be wrong with them. Maybe they've seen through the Christian cliches and easy church answers and are starting to feel like an outsider in their own church. Maybe they've taken notice of those passages of Scripture that warn about trials and suffering and wonder why American Christianity is so easy and safe. Or maybe they've experienced real hardship and wonder why God hasn't done something about it. I wonder about how a new believer might read The Untamed. Hopefully some will read it and let me know. Perhaps that will result in another book. We'll see. 

When is the book available and where can people find it?

The Untamed is available now on Amazon and our website www.untamedgroup.com.

Thank you, Michael, for sharing your newest work!

Be sure to pick up your copy of The Untamed today.

To read Michael's two previous interviews, click HERE for Blackwell and HERE for Defying Gravity.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019

10 Questions with Thriller Writer C.W. Lemoine (@CWLemoine)

This
Author Spotlight
features
Thriller Writer

C.W. Lemoine

Author of

Fini Flight



C.W. Lemoine is the author of the military/espionage thriller novels SPECTRE RISING, AVOID. NEGOTIATE. KILL., ARCHANGEL FALLEN, EXECUTIVE REACTION, BRICK BY BRICK, STAND AGAINST EVIL , ABSOLUTE VENGEANCE, THE HELIOS CONSPIRACY, I AM THE SHEEPDOG and FINI FLIGHT.

A Louisiana native, Lemoine is a graduate of the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University in New Orleans. After graduating college, Lemoine joined the Air Force Reserve where he flew the F-16 and accumulated one thousand hours including a combat tour in Iraq.



Lemoine later transferred to the Navy Reserve where he flew F/A-18A+ Hornets for four years. He currently flies for a legacy U.S. airline and is a POST-1 certified reserve deputy sheriff.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

It started as a coping mechanism after my mom passed away when I was twelve years old. That turned into a novella that I thought would make me the youngest author in the history of ever.

Turns out, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just emailing it to the first agent I could find. When the agent rejected me, I figured that was the end of it.

Years later, my fiancée started writing and I decided to pick up the keyboard once more. I wrote five chapters and then shelved it as life took over until I transferred to the Navy Reserve and moved to New Orleans.

I had a bit of down time, so I started writing again.  With the encouragement of my good friend, Dr. Doug Narby, I kept going.  Eventually that became SPECTRE RISING, which kicked off the SPECTRE SERIES.

I sent out hundreds of queries to agents, but never could get any to bite. I went the self-publishing route and never looked back.  Ten novels later, and it’s been an amazing journey.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

My favorite part of writing is the feedback. I enjoy interacting with fans and discussing characters and storylines.

I hate editing, picking the title, and writing the blurb on the back.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I usually have a vague outline in my mind, but I like to say the characters write the story. I often have no idea where it’s going until I start writing.

I usually shoot for 1-2k words per day – writing whenever I can.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

The late Vince Flynn was a great writer. I loved his writing style and the story of how he became a writer is inspiring. His death was a tragic loss to the literary world.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

My editor and I go back and forth about this, but the correct answer is inside.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
Agnostic.

7.What is your book FINI FLIGHTabout and how did it come to fruition?

FINI FLIGHT is my latest novel. It’s my tenth book and the eighth in the SPECTRE SERIES.  It was an idea that I had as an adversary pilot in the military.

With the current drama in North Korea, I tried to make it as “ripped from the headlines” as I could imagine.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I’m taking a break right now, but my next project will be the third book in the Alex Shepherd Series.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

Sadly, none at the moment. With my various jobs (cop, fighter pilot, airline pilot, author, vlogger), I find very little time to sit down and read.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Life and experiencing new things. I’m fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had in the military, law enforcement, and aviation.  I like to write about what I know and apply my experiences to “what if” scenarios based on real world current events.

They say the truth is often stranger than fiction, so I try to do my best to bridge that gap.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

FINI FLIGHT is now available in print and eBook.  It’s book 8 in the SPECTRE SERIES, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Readers can check out my weekly vlog MONDAYS WITH MOVER every Monday on YouTube. 


Thanks for having me on your blog. I appreciate the opportunity.

You're welcome, C.W.  Keep up the great work. Fellow pilots such as myself always enjoy reading stories in which aviation is prominently featured.

Be sure to check out C.W.'s website and subscribe to his YouTube channel for fun and interesting content on writing, aviation, Corvettes, and more.

Follow C.W. on social media:
Twitter: twitter.com/CWLemoine/
Facebook: facebook.com/CWLemoine/
Instagram: Instagram.com/CWLemoine/
YouTube: youtube.com/CWLemoine/

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

10 Questions with Author Sandra Glosser (@baccibone1)

This
Author Spotlight
features

Sandra Glosser

author of
My Name is Bacci Bogie: Frequent Flyer Extraordinaire



Sandra Glosser has enjoyed a 30-year career as an international motivational speaker/trainer with expertise in law enforcement training. When she moved to Aspen, Colorado, she wrote a newspaper column and then penned a book about a local police officer who moved to the community as an undercover agent. She also enjoyed a fourteen-year experience as a host for her local television show. Writing became a hobby as she pursued her speaking career traveling across the country with her magnificent 'jet pet' Bacci Bogie.

Sandra & Bacci

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?


One might say with a sense of humor, “from the ground up.” My first writing gig was with the Dallas Morning News as an obituary writer.  I had met one of their reporters in a journalism class.  He suggested it would be a great place to get my feet wet.  I had a chance inbetween obits to write some color stories and rather enjoyed it.  My ambition was to write a television sports show for women; however, got off track when I decided to move to Aspen, Colorado. 

I proposed to one of the local newspapers a weekly column and enjoyed that for three years.  During that time, I heard about an Aspen cop who came to the community as an undercover and thought this might be a springboard for a novel.  And, I pursued it and wrote a 500-page novel called Penguin

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

Writing is a great way for me to spend unstructured time.  I feel connected when I write.  What I dislike are the rewrites.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc? 

Actually, I am most drawn to write about things that I know about and the words come easy. 

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

Hemingway, Eckert Tolle, Rollo May.  I enjoy several writers who also speak.  Hmm, wonder why as I enjoyed a 30-year career as a public speaker/trainer.
  
5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

You got me on that one.  I think inside but I’m not positive. 

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Don’t really like it.

7.What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?

My Name Is Bacci Bogie: Frequent Flyer Extraordinaire is based on travels with my ‘jet pet’. Bacci, a four-pound, adorable Maltese dog, traveled over 500,000 air miles with me and had an extremely exciting life.  His antics made him the center of attention wherever he went.  The book is focused on his experiences as my companion and I wrote it from his point of view and in his voice.  A real challenge for me to think and react like a dog. It was a natural that I would write about it as I lived it.



8.What’s your current writing project?

I’ve just published this book and have 20 short stories locked away just waiting for my attention.

 9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’ve been too focused on this book.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

My life has inspired my writing and the way I have lived it.  My 30-year career as a motivational speaker specializing in law enforcement groups, has given me much material for many more books.  I also enjoyed a 14-year run as the hostess for my own television show on a local Aspen TV station.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

My book is available on Amazon.  Choose Books, put my name, Sandra Glosser, in search and magic happens.  If you are a dog lover, you can’t help but fall in love with Bacci and his story.  Everyone who has given me feedback, says the same.  He is also inspirational in nature, clever and funny.  You can get a sense of him even before you read the book by visiting www.baccibogie.com

Thank you, Sandra! It's a delightful book everyone is sure to enjoy.

Be sure to purchase a copy of  My Name is Bacci Bogi: Frequent Flyer Extraordinaire today!


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

10 Questions with Author Steve Bivans (@stevebivans)



This
Author Spotlight
features

Steve Bivans

Author of
Anno Draconis



Steve Bivans is the author of Vikings, War, and the Fall of the Carolingians; Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth; The End of Fear Itself, and the Viking saga, Anno Draconis: Dawn of the Dragon. He is a trained historian of the Viking Age. He lives in St. Paul, MN where he smokes meat, drinks bourbon, and throws axes at things.


1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

Short answer? I don’t remember, lol.

Long one? I suppose I’ve always been a decent storyteller (translation: accomplished liar). As far as actual writing, I spent years in college and graduate school writing hundreds of pages of academic stuff. I studied medieval history at the University of Minnesota until around 2011. My focus was Viking military history.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love brainstorming ideas. This is true for both non-fiction, which is what I began writing/publishing, and for my historical fiction series: Anno Draconis.

I love writing the first draft, especially fiction. Once I get on a roll, it comes pouring out, or at least it does on most days. Some days just suck of course and I sit there banging away F-bombs and curses at the muses, or just line after line of “All work and no play…” lol

I hate those days. And I hate the first stages of editing, when there are huge holes to fill in the story and I have to switch between the creative side of my brain and my logical/editor side. Sucks ass. I really struggle with that part. I always get through it, somehow, but I never remember the damned recipe.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

When I write—and I should write 7 days a week, but don’t—I write every day for a minimum of one hour.

I’m a firm believer in writing very fast. This comes from several influences, not the least, Stephen King, who says he writes fast to outrun his Demons of Doubt. I set a timer for one hour, click ‘go’ and I’m off to the races.

My non-fiction was definitely outlined. But I learned during my first book, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth, that one should never marry their outlines. It is strictly a one night stand kind of thing. Because they never work out until the end, when you don’t need them anymore. Then you divorce them and move on.

When I sat down to write my first novel, Anno Draconis, I struggled with this for some time. After failing to write anything by plotting, I brainstormed ideas about the Arc, the Characters, the Setting, and then I chose a Scene, sat down, and started writing, like mad.

I let the characters decide how to get to those very few points where I’d like for them to go. But they don’t always go there, or they choose an entirely different path than I thought they would.

And other characters emerge from the darkness and the woodwork to join the chorus. “Where the hell did THAT dude come from?” I’ve wondered aloud, more than once. It’s really quite magical. Not sure how it works. But it does, if I’m willing to trust the story and not be afraid to let go of the control. It’s kind of Zen and Dao, actually.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

When it comes to fiction, three of the greats: Tolkien for his imagination and for his Hobbits. I’m a hobbit at heart, if a Dwarf in temper. I love beer, food, and mostly just sitting around talking and hanging out, as opposed to going on adventures. But when I’m pissed off, my first instinct is to smash things with an axe, like Gimli. I’m also very good at throwing them and hitting what I aim for. Just a warning, lol.

I’ve always loved Mark Twain for his characters, dialogue, storytelling, and definitely for his wit. Sharpest wit in history I think. In one line, he could eviscerate large swaths of society.

Stephen King for all of it. Might be cliche, but the man can write a f**kin story. I’m a huge fan of what I call his “Flagg” stories: The Stand, The Dark Tower, Eye of the Dragon. My favorite evil character of all time: Randall Flagg/Man in Black.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Who f**kin’ cares? lol. That’s my editor’s job. Her name is Patience. Yeah, I know, how appropriate, right? But it’s true; that’s her name. I sleep with her. It’s convenient, and she makes amazing scrambled eggs, among other amazing things.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I’m a huge fan. I’m a huge fan of commas, in general, even when, they aren’t useful. My editor-partner-Patience is not. We argue about it every damned time. I win. Mostly. At least on that one point. I usually lose all other arguments with her.

7.What is your book Anno Draconis: Dawn of the Dragon about and how did it come to fruition?

As I mentioned, I studied Viking history in grad school. A couple years ago I decided to publish my master’s thesis, a translation of the Annals of St. Vaast, published by me, with my introduction, under the title of Vikings, War, and the Fall of the Carolingians. It’s an English translation of a Frankish Ninth Century text in Latin. Yeah, sounds boring as hell, and some people certainly agreed with that sentiment, hence the lower than average ranking on the book, but I did it anyway.

And it just kind of took off! Like I sold 300 copies in the first month! Then the next month, 1200! Then 700!


So I was surprised and flabbergasted and left wondering, “What the hell just happened?” and “How the hell do I replicate it?”

I had contemplated writing an historical fiction book on the Vikings for some time, so the time seemed right to do it. I sat down, brainstormed on the idea for a while, too long probably, then actually started writing. Anno Draconis (In the Year of the Dragon), came out of the fire of creativity.
Most of it was written in about two months.

The story of Anno Draconis follows the destructive path of a young viking warrior, Sigurd Hrolfsson, as he leads his men into Francia (now France) along with the Viking Great Army, who are intent upon sacking Paris, again. This is in 885 A.D., forty years after the semi-mythical Ragnar burned the place. Fans of the show on the History Channel will be familiar with the setting. The history in Draconis, however, is much better. The historical setting comes from my dissertation work on the Siege of Paris of 885.

The story combines real history with elements of magical realism, since the people of the time really believed in magic, demons, monsters. But I use it very subtly. It’s barely there, but just enough to add some mystery, I hope. Also, there is murder, and a mystery or two, though it’s not really a murder mystery. Mostly it’s about the quest for vengeance, the power of language to shape reality, and the destructiveness of war. It’s very bloody. I don’t pull punches on the violence. Pun intended.

As for the history part of it, I adhere to a strict philosophy. I like to say that I will not break the bones of history (the facts in other words), to write the flesh of fiction.

I might have my characters go around the facts, or an event, but I will not change them to suit my story. There’s simply too much space in-between all facts and events in history where we as authors can run rampant. And I do. But I don’t break the bones.

I might hack some bones to pieces, burn others, and leave the dead and dying in heaps. The bones of my characters. But not the bones of history.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I am in the early stages of editing part two of Anno Draconis, which is entitled Reign of Wolves. The story of Sigurd continues, and the plot thickens, to be cliche. I’m enjoying it so far. The story, not the editing. I’ll have it out sometime this summer. I also have a couple chapters written for part three: City of Light, Kingdom of Serpents.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

Not really reading anything right now. I don’t, as a rule, read a lot of fiction. I have in the past, and probably will again. I have a long list of things from fellow writers on Twitter, #writingcommunity. Not sure when I’ll read them all. Luckily the stack is in my Kindle and not on my floor. Editor-partner-Patience is very happy about that, too.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Who the hell knows? lol. I suppose I’m a bit of a philosopher? Overthinker, or Tick Tocker is what I call myself as it sounds less pretentious. I have brainspin a lot. I spend a lot of time asking really huge questions: “What IS real? Why are we here? Why does the world seem so f**ked up? What can one person do about it? What’s at the bottom of it?”

I told my editor-partner-Patience the other day that what I really am is a Thinker. I have things to say and writing is ONE way to say them. I say them other ways, too, but I like writing. You get to fix what you say before other people read it. Unlike when I speak. It just comes out, and then I have to apologize.

My first two books, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth, and The End of Fear Itself, were attempts to answer some of those burning questions in a non-fiction format.


Anno Draconis is a way to explore them in the flow of a story. I did not, however, have an agenda for it, nor do I. Those themes just seem to show up, I think, because they are universal questions that all humans have. Hell, maybe our dogs, cows, and chickens ask them too? I’m fairly confident they do. My cats, however, do not. They already know the answers. But they ain’t talkin’.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

You can find me pretty much everywhere, under my name. And yeah, it was arbitrarily assigned to me at birth. I haven’t bothered to change it.

I have a website under my name. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and probably some other places I signed up for and forgot. All of them under my name.
On Facebook I have discussion groups for all my books.

My ebooks, currently, are exclusively on Amazon. You can find me on there, here:

author.to/SteveBivans is my author page.

My books:

Anno Draconis: Dawn of the Dragon: mybook.to/Draconis1

Be a Hobbit: mybook.to/BeaHobbit

End of Fear Itself: mybook.to/EndOfFearItself

Vikings, War, and the Fall of the Carolingians: mybook.to/VikingsWar

 Thanks, Steve. You're amassing an impressive body of work with stories backed by and infused with an equally-impressive knowledge of history. Be sure to visit with us again when Reign of Wolves is ready.

Please visit Steve's website to learn more, and grab a copy of Anno Draconis today!