Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Amazon to Begin Charging Indie Authors to Publish?

Will they?

Should they?

At this point, it's all hypothetical. Amazon has no such plans. At least, no such plans that any of us are aware of.

But should they?

Novelist Rob Guthrie recently posed this very question on his blog RobOnWriting.com. (And took a bit of heat while doing so.)

It's an interesting question.

I have mixed feelings about Amazon charging authors to publish their books. But some sort of weeding-out process wouldn’t hurt. As a serious, professional, lifelong writer who takes my craft very, very seriously and spends A LOT of time making my work as perfect as it can be, it is troubling to see so much hackneyed wannabe unreadable crap glomming up the marketplace, distracting readers from more professional work. Such dreck de-legitimizes indie authors & publishers.

For example, some months ago I purchased an ebook on Amazon. I believe it purported to be a vampire story. In my defense, the cover looked good; it looked like a "real" book penned by a "real writer."

Oh sweet Moses how wrong was I.

Remember that scene in "Stepbrothers" when John C. Reilly and Will Ferell built bunk beds:

To quote John C. Reilly: "It's bad! It's so bad!"

I am of course referring to the aforementioned vampire-esque "novel" which was totally unreadable. It boasted a paucity of readability unlike anything I'd ever encountered. In that, it almost ought to be commended. Almost. It was SO bad.

Ergo, the argument can (and was) made that charging authors to publish on Amazon would, er, discourage the misguided publishing attempts of certain individuals.

Furthermore, it was argued that this would in turn cost Amazon money as fewer writers would then publish with them; these writers would turn instead to publishing venues such as Smashwords (which distributes to other outlets such as iTunes, Kobo.com, BarnesandNoble.com).

Would charging authors to publish cause such an abandoning of the proverbial e-publishing ship? It was suggested that perhaps a one-time fee (perhaps $99) and a per-title publishing fee be charged (perhaps $25).

Would this discourage "wannabe" writers from publishing on Amazon?

Would this discourage "real" writers from publishing on Amazon because they lack either the funds or the willingness to PAY to be published?

I'm fairly certain that this vanity press model has been around for a LONG time and has always been considered crap. After all, one of the cardinal rules for aspiring writers is that one NEVER pays to have one's work read. Ever.

Let us also remember that for years and years Amazon LOST money on every book it sold. Because they were thinking long term. Which is smart. Are they likely to now perform a radical money-making-ectomy on themselves, thereby gutting one of the most successful business models ever devised, the same business model which has to date yielded them the lion's share of the digital publishing marketplace, leaving others playing catch-up?

Probably not.

Rob Guthrie made a great point about the slush pile being (at least partially) transferred into the marketplace, which leaves the reader to sift through it. This is not entirely a bad thing. Consider folks like USA Today bestselling-author Amanda Hocking.

She was a complete unknown. Amazon played a key role in her getting where she is now: onto the bestseller lists and into negotiations for film rights.

Would Amanda be where she is today without Amazon? Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

We’ll never know. She now enjoys a unique status as a hybrid author. She has her own self-published titles, and she also has her titles being released through a traditional publisher.

May all talented writers be so fortunate.

And let us not forget other successful indie publishers, who are still 100% independent:

Author of three international bestsellers, Melissa Foster

Bestselling science fiction and thriller writer Michael R. Hicks

and thriller master, indie publishing wunderkind, and survivor of the 30-Day Beer Diet, Joe Konrath

(and probably others I'm forgetting!). Would one of these three successful indie writers sign a contract with one of the Big 6? Would they sell the rights to their work, giving up control of everything from the title to the cover art to any and all future monies (save their royalties, of course, which are far lower than those in the still-nebulous yet always exciting realm of self-publishing)?

Would I sign such a contract?

It's a tough call.

Joe Konrath has blogged extensively on the nightmare he endured while traveling the publishing road through New York for over a decade. Amanda Hocking seems to be having a different, more pleasant experience. Mr. Konrath has also stated that for the right amount of money he would delete his entire blog. So it seems everyone has his or her price. And because our goal is to earn a living from our writing, we would be foolish not to accept an appropriate offer. Wouldn't we?

It may help to look at Amazon and indie publishing as a proving ground. I predict that more and more authors will be "discovered." Authors such as Amanda Hocking and of course John Locke, who is a New York Times bestselling author and the first self-published author to sell 1 million eBooks on Amazon Kindle.

Such authors will be "discovered" by the trads/Big6 and will be given sweetheart deals (ie life-changing money). This "discovery," this "overnight success," will of course only occur after the author has spent thousands of hours writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, mastering the self-publishing process, acquiring a cover, etc etc etc. We all know the process.

Overnight successes usually come after years of determined effort. Like Joe Konrath says: There’s a word for a writer who didn’t quit: PUBLISHED.

Luck, after all, is when preparedness meets opportunity.

Click HERE to read Rob's original post and the voluminous, often heated discussion which followed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

10 Questions with Novelist Kai Mann (@Kaiology)

This Author Spotlight features Michigan-based novelist Kai Mann.

Kai Mann is the author of 30 DAY NOTICE (see above), a novel published under the Scriblical Vibez Publishing brand. Kai is also an independent contract writer for Examiner.com as the Detroit’s Best Friend Examiner. As a contributor to the poetry community, Kai’s online poetry blog Kaiology Wet Your Intellectual Taste Buds is where she purposefully inspires thought pertaining to the themes of love, friendship, self-love, and self-progression. As the writer for the Scriblical Vibez blog, Kai’s mission is to contribute inspiring content that not only promotes self-growth, but also content that inspires a vibrational change through written word.

1. How did you get into writing?
I have been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. As a young child you could find me sitting in my room reading a book or writing poetry. Somewhere around the age of twelve I decided that one day I was going to write a book. I never knew what I would write about but I just knew that I would. A child-hood friend had been reading some of my poetry posts on facebook and suggested that I start blogging. I think she believed in me more than I did myself; however, I decided to take her up on the challenge. Professionally I got into writing in 2009 when she later suggested I write for examiner.com. While writing for examiner I began writing 30 Day Notice.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing? 
What I like most about writing is that I can put my thoughts down just to get them out of my head and later share my writing with others.

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 am not yet regimented in my writing. I write as thoughts come to me.  I write on stickies, in journals, and in the note section of my phone until I can get to my laptop or computer to put all my ideas down into a particular format. I’ve been to writing conferences and seminars that suggest that you have a daily word count goal but for some reason I cannot be creative that way.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I admire the writings of Christopher Rice, Iyanla Vanzant, Terry McMillan, Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and the late E. Lynn Harris.

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

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I don’t know that I have a stance on the Oxford Comma but it makes perfect sense to place a comma before using and. My belief is that it may be less confusing to the reader.

7. What is your book 30 Day Notice about and how did it come to fruition?
30 Day Notice is about a woman’s journey after she has been given a 30 day notice from her lover. It’s about love, relationships, friendships, betrayal, spirituality, self-reflection, and ultimately growth. The book references all the notices that we receive in relationships and life in general; and how we overlook those notices because we get distracted by something or someone.  30 Day Notice came into fruition one day when I was forced to think about distractions and notices that I received in my own life and in the lives of others. I thought that some of the lessons learned could be an example to someone else. Hence, 30 Day Notice was born.

8. What’s your current writing project?
Currently I am working on the second installment in the Eviction Chronicles series which is a novel about the perceptions of abandonment. I am also working on a book of poetry titled In My Mother’s House.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Currently I am reading  Think and Grow Rich, A Black Choice by Dennis Kimbro and Napoleon Hill

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
I’d have to say that the Creator inspires me to write. The closer I get to the spirit side of myself the more I want to write about it.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
30 Day Notice can be purchased in eBook format at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords.com

To purchase 30 Day Notice in paperback, visit scriblicalvibez.com and Amazon.com as well. Visit http://www.examiner.com/friendship-in-detroit to read my Detroit Best Friends articles. For a new and interesting way to look at different situations in life, check out my writing for Scriblical Vibez at www.scriblicalvibez.com/blogstuff. To learn more about me and to read my online blog poetry you can visit my website at http://kai-mann.com

Thank you, Kai. The book looks great and I really like your message/themes of love, friendship, and self-love. The world can always use more of such things. Let us know when the second book in the EVICTIONS trilogy is available.

Pick up a copy of 30 DAY NOTICE on Amazon today!
And follow Kai on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Kaiology

Finally, take another look at the cover art for 30 DAY NOTICE. I'd looked at it perhaps 20 times before I saw it, before I truly SAW it. Nice work, Kai.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

10 Questions with Sci-Fi Writer John-Paul Cleary (@ConvergentSpace)

This Author Spotlight features science fiction writer John-Paul Cleary.

John-Paul has taken his extensive experience as a magazine editor and applied it to the world of creating fiction. The result is his first novel, CONVERGENT SPACE (see above), which John-Paul describes as an "accessible road movie of a book." Readers have said that CONVERGENT SPACE is full of unique and interesting characters, fascinating alien races and plenty of twists and turns.

John Paul lives just outside Aberdeen, Scotland.

1. How did you get into writing?

Writing is something I’ve always done.  I’ve even tried it as a career once, working as a magazine editor for four years.  It taught me how to write quickly and to write to order, and how to edit.

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

Not reading.  I can’t read other books when I’m writing because I’m too easily influenced.  I start mimicking the style of the book I’m reading and suddenly I’m writing Dickens in Space!

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 plan the whole book and write a few sentences about each chapter.  As I’m approaching a chapter I flesh out the outline – usually about 2 or 3 pages of planning.  Any less than that I start digressing and drifting off the plot, any more than that and I find my creativity is suppressed.

I write first thing in the morning – early, before anyone else is awake, 5 am preferably.  The target is always 1000 words a day, 7 days a week. I never achieve that but I’m the eternal optimist.  And it’s good to push yourself.

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

I admire everyone who has ever put a pen to paper. I can see value in anything someone has written down, even if it’s three chapters of a book they never finished.  Everyone has something to say and it’s great to read what that is.

As for my favorites – for sci-fi it has to be Iain M Banks.  Reading his books got me back into sci-fi after I had cooled to it for a few years.

My favorite novel is The Magus by John Fowles. I’ve read it at least four times. It’s a little dated now but I love the way he messes about with fantasy and reality, and form and content.  It’s full of flaws and it leaves lots of things unanswered and I like that too. There’s no reason why stories should always tie up all loose ends. Unanswered questions make you think.

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

Outside but who’s counting?

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

Commas affect meaning, flow and rhythm so if the meaning of the sentence is the same with or without, and has the flow and rhythm then I leave it out.

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

Convergent Space is a dramatic sci-fi space opera.  The premise I think is quite original.  Normally space operas either have Earth at the centre of some grand federation or are about a different galaxy where Earth doesn’t feature. In Convergent Space there is a grand federation called the Renaissance but Earth isn’t part of it.  Earth is a faded power, a has-been, an outsider.  It was implicated in a terrible galactic crime that destroyed thousands of worlds and has been shunned ever since.

The story revolves around Earth’s 200-year obsession with trying to prove its innocence and thereby regain its lost status.  We pick up events when one of Earth’s space-faring investigators finally finds a clue that might just lead to the truth. 

All this happens against a backdrop of galactic war as a dark force is rising out of the ashes of the worlds most affected by the earlier catastrophe.  And both stories – the one in the past and the one in the present - eventually intertwine.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I’m currently writing the second book in the series. The outlines for the first three books were planned from the outset so that was always going to be the case.  One of my readers on Twitter also suggested a prequel – if you read Convergent Space you will see why this would be attractive. It’s not a bad idea.

The series was designed to grow in scale and concept as they progress: each bigger, wider and more ambitious than the last.  The challenge of course is to do this while making sure each story stands up on its own.  I’m looking forward to tackling that. It creates even more possibilities.

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

As I said I can’t read other books when I’m writing but I have the latest Iain M Banks on my shelf waiting.

I can read short stuff OK so I stick to the blogs of the people I meet on Twitter.  There are some real gems out there.  The talent of indie writers and other Twitterers just astounds me. My favorites recently are the short stories by @Belgerith, the poetry of @Mentalistacer and the toe-curling weirdness of @Flostp.

The funniest guy on Twitter is a guy in San Diego called @Vapid_Waste.  He’s so dry and creepy he’s like a cross between Steven Wright and the Robert De Nero character in Taxi Driver.  The only problem is I’m not 100% sure he’s trying to be funny.  I also worry that someday he might find out my address!  He only has about 30 followers but he should have 30,000. I don’t even know how I found him.  I love Twitter.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

People initially.  People I meet, people from my past, people from history… Then my imagination takes over and transports it all off-world.

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

Convergent Space is available from:

Or you can read a free excerpt on my blog - http://convergentspace.blog.co.uk

Thanks, John-Paul. I really like the premise for CONVERGENT SPACE. Let us know when the second book in the series is available.

Pick up a copy of Convergent Space today. And follow John-Paul on Twitter at @ConvergentSpace.

Monday, February 20, 2012

10 Questions with Writer Lawrence Sylou-Creutz Ojermark (@EmpireLore)

This Author Spotlight features writer Lawrence Sylou-Creutz Ojermark.

Lawrence was born a U.S. citizen abroad to foreign parents, yet grew up in the United States and has had the fortune of traveling since an early age. This led to years spent abroad, in a variety of fields. Learning languages rather quickly, Lawrence used that advantage in training martial arts, culminating in training under a couple masters in the orient for a few years.

After numerous escapades, adventures and over 40 countries visited, Lawrence has used these life experiences to color his writings with vivid detail. Lawrence has earned a few college degrees and  served in the U.S. Military. Writing however has always been one of his passions, and he has never once let down the pen.

Lawrence is the author of PLENARY FITNESS (see above) as well as A JOURNEY BEGINS

FATE'S NEEDLE - Book 2 of THE WINDS OF MOIRA Trilogy (available March, 2012)

MOIRA - Book 3 of THE WINDS OF MOIRA Trilogy (available April, 2012)

THE WINDS OF MOIRA - The Complete Trilogy


1. How did you get into writing?
I began writing at an early age. As a child I enjoyed writing short stories and it has evolved from there.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I’ll answer both simultaneously: creating something where nothing once existed. The challenge is that my muse is not always forthcoming, however, at times I’m mildly amazed at what words have spilled onto the page.

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 set goals for myself. These are internal goals. I stick to them for the most part. I never much enjoyed writing outlines, I never did it at any university I went to (please don’t tell my English teachers this), and I don’t much care for it now. The outline is often up in my head.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
The list is long, too long to mention without leaving so many good writers off of it. I find that many writers bring different strengths and ideas to the table, many of which are noteworthy to me.

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

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
Mostly a shoulder-width stance in which I stare firmly at it, then decide to use it.

7. What is your book Plenary Fitness about and how did it come to fruition?
Plenary Fitness is a health and wellness book that breaks the mold of most fitness books in that it attempts to unite the different components critical to phenomenal health all in one, easy to read book.
Interestingly it was an idea I woke up with. I skipped breakfast and sat at the computer for a few hours. By noon I had most of the table of contents finished and the first 14 pages completed.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I was never fully satisfied with The Winds of Moira. I’m currently re-writing large segments, and will release it as a trilogy.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
I've just begun reading “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
My wife inspires me, as does life. I enjoy traveling, every person I meet, every country I visit, and every new experience adds to the repository of knowledge waiting to be put to paper.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
It is my goal to continue writing; it’s a passion and a hobby. I enjoy Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Health and Fitness, so expect to see more of those genres from me. If you’re curious to know more, find out about upcoming projects, promotions, books, etc. Please feel free to visit my website - http://www.empirelore.com

Thank you, Lawrence, for sharing your book and your experience with us. Let us know when THE WINDS OF MOIRA is ready.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

10 Questions with Novelist Gerald Summers (@mobleymeadows)

This Author Spotlight features Temecula, California-based writer Gerald Summers. Gerald is a retired lawyer, a teacher, former police officer and probation officer, and an historian.

1.How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing all my life.  I wrote reports as a police officer, probation officer, and as a lawyer.  My specialty in law was in trial briefs, law and motion, and appellate work.  I was once considered the best appellate writer in California and was once introduced as such by the Chief Justice of the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?
The endorphins that are released during the process of creation. This compares to the stress hormones that are released when writing legal documents.

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 do not outline.  I follow the W plot diagram in my head after deciding what the story will be about and have done my basic research. I work when the spirit moves and do not let it interfere with my life.  I write about what I know, do my research, if any is needed, while I am writing.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I like military histories, science fiction, and mysteries.  I am currently reading the books of David Bishop; The BeholderThe WomanWho Killed Garson Talmadge; and The Third Coincidence.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Quote marks should be outside all other punctuation.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I use the Oxford Comma frequently, because that is the way I was taught.

7.What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?
I have one book currently published.  It is called, “Mobley’s Law, A Mobley Meadows Novel.”  A sequel is now at the publisher and will be released when the cover art is complete in about two weeks.  It is called, “Curses, A Mobley Meadows Novel.”  The third in this series is about half finished and will be called, “Mobley’s War, A Mobley Meadows Novel.” I decided to write in three different genres: non-traditional western novels; science fiction; and military fiction.  I had so much fun writing westerns, I decided to stick with it.

8.What’s your current writing project?
The third book in my trilogy, “Mobley’s War", a Mobley Meadows Novel.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?
John Berry’s, “A Night of Horrors.”

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
I am inspired by the history of the west and try to make sure my novels are based around actual events.

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

My novel, “Mobley’s Law,” can be found on Amazon.com; Barnes & Noble.com; and Smashwords.com; or may be purchased directly from my website: www.mobleymeadows.com  I try not only to be historically accurate, but to educate my readers, and to inject humor and compassion for others into my stories.  So far, my average rating is five stars.

Thank you, Gerald, for sharing your experience and work with us. Keep it up with those five-star results!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

10 Questions with Poet Mario Canto (@MarioTCanto)



This Author Spotlight features Los Angeles-based poet Mario Canto. Mario is the author of a book of poetry titled DANCING WITH DISILLUSION (see above) as well as a forthcoming novel. Mario is also an artist and graphic designer, a guitarist, and a vocalist.

1. How did you get into writing?

I first began in high school. I grew up poor so I couldn’t afford flowers for Valentine’s Day so I just wrote a poem to a young lady that I was interested in. I went to Los Angeles High School and on Valentine’s Day the guys would come with balloons and flowers for the girlfriends. I always felt bad. I just couldn’t afford it. My family was on welfare. We didn’t have anything of our own but dignity. The poem itself was simple… almost comical because it just said how beautiful I thought she was. But if you ask me, she seemed happier than the girls that received flowers when I read her the poem. I guess I felt like I was doing something right.

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

I love its expression but, that is in all good art. Beautiful, ugly, immaculate, vulgar… this is real stuff. I guess I only hate writing when it’s sh*tty and doesn’t seem human. Why do art for the sake of impressing people? It should be about giving people an experience. Making them feel something. I can’t count how many open mike venues I have been to where I nearly fell asleep because of its lack of emotion. Give me something real!!! Please!!!!

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 write when I want. I never force myself otherwise it will all be garbage. Rules are for fools when one creates art. How many libraries have been filled with boring books that don’t even deserve the space they occupy? This is how toilet paper is made.

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

Mario Canto, Mario Canto, and… Mario Canto. Love ’em 

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

I put them inside but who gives a damn! I know a few people that do care and I feel they need to get a hobby or even better, a life.

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

I have no stance on it. Use it or don’t use it. It’s that simple. Who cares? But then again there is someone out there that does. Many poets don’t care for such rules. I am one of them.

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

It’s a book of poetry about the here and now. I am 23 and they say I am from the lost generation. The X generation. But I say we should be called the y/why-generation. Why don’t we have a shot at a real future? Seems like most people my age are living with family members, completely unable to do things on their own even if they have a 40-60 hour a week job. Most young people don’t have a job because there are no jobs. My book addresses our stance. My generation is frowned upon but we are the outcome of incompetent parents. Hell, most parents have royally failed and then have the gall to voice a barrage of negative opinions. My poems speak on these things. The book speaks on society, love, politics, and in general human sentiments. This book addresses the truth, in hopes of creating a more unified union of people regardless of age, color, culture, and gender. This poetry book encompasses true human elements that have the power to give people courage enough to love and respect one another. I just collected my poems and decided it was time to publish them.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I am working on a novel. I am in the editing process so it’s not even worth going into to much detail. Editing is a long process.

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

Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

Everything and nothing. Young people and the babies mostly. I hope our elders will hear us out. I wrote my book as an attempt to reach both young and old audiences. So our future keeps me inspired part of the time.

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 Dancing With Disillusion on Amazon.com (samples too), Barnesandnoble.com, and a few others. I pop up at random venues in Los Angeles as well to do open mike spoken word. Sometimes I don’t plan it. That’s the kind of life I lead.

Thanks, Mario, for sharing your experience and your voice. 

Powerful poetry, folks. Purchase a copy of Dancing With Disillusion on Amazon. You'll be glad you did.

Be sure to follow Mario on Twitter as well:

Monday, February 6, 2012

10 Questions with Writer John L. Betcher (@JohnBetcher)

This Author Spotlight features writer/novelist John L. Betcher.

John holds a Bachelor's Degree, cum laude, in English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis. He has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota. He has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball there. Mr. Betcher has published three feature articles in COACHING VOLLEYBALL, the Journal of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. His most recent article was the cover story for the April/May, 2009 Issue. His book on volleyball coaching philosophies entitled THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF VOLLEYBALL COACHING, Insights From the Trenches, has been selling nationwide and is currently available at Amazon.com.

Mr. Betcher has also published a series of "Beck" suspense/thriller novels. The first three are THE 19TH ELEMENT, THE MISSING ELEMENT, and THE COVERT ELEMENT. He has also published the Amazon No. 1 Bestselling Spirituality novel, A HIGHER COURT.

1. How did you get into writing?

I started out writing articles for Coaching Volleyball Magazine. That pursuit eventually turned in to a small book about volleyball coaching philosophies entitled, The Little Black Book of Volleyball Coaching.

Then my kids graduated from high school and I found that, since I was no longer coaching their sporting activities or attending their music and awards banquets, I had extra time on my hands. So I thought I’d try a novel.

It’s really as simple as that. (Or as silly as that.)

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

Ha. My favorite thing is when I finally finish all the rewrites and the edits and I can publish the book. Isn’t that everybody’s favorite part of writing?

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 don’t outline. I usually start out with lots of research, interviews with subject matter experts, reading of written materials, and trying to put all that information into a current social or political context.

From there, I have the plot in my head, and I just write until I feel like the book is finished. Usually, I like to write 4,000 or 5,000 words a day of rough draft material. Sometimes, that means writing for pretty long days. Other times, I need to set a project aside in the middle until I can mentally sort out the situation my characters have gotten themselves into.

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

There are lots of writers I read and admire. I have always enjoyed Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books. I like Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s sense of humor and writing voice. For fresh, new writing styles, I enjoy sampling indie writers and self-publishers. There are too many to list here. And I don’t want anyone to feel left out. So I’ll leave them all out. (Seems fair?)

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

LOL. “OUTSIDE.” Per the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), question marks go inside the quotation marks only when the quoted material is a question.

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

I never used to use serial commas. But the CMOS does call for them. So I’ve adapted my writing to include Oxford commas. If I had my choice, I would use a comma before “and” in a listing only when I thought it was necessary to clarify the writing. But I’m pretty sure nobody at CMOS cares about my opinion. And that’s cool with me.

7. What is your book, THE COVERT ELEMENT, about and how did it come to fruition?

The Covert Element is about a fictional Mexican drug cartel trying to exert its influence into parts of the northern U.S. It’s also about how my ensemble of characters responds to this new and unexpected threat.

Since The Covert Element is Book Three in the Becker suspense/thriller series, the roles the characters play are all pretty well established. But the readers do meet an important new personality from Bull’s past. This man reveals a few things about Bull that many of us have been trying to pin down . . . like how he knows so much about explosives.

I put a ton of research into this book. So the cartel actions and drug manufacturing are completely authentic. And my interview with a retired Army Ranger lends some detailed texture to a military operation early in the book. I think suspense readers will like the book a lot. Sales so far are encouraging.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I have two projects in the works. The first, and biggest, is Book Four in the Becker series. It will take place in various locations between Minnesota, Washington, DC, and Egypt. The plot deals with stolen American military technology and the geo-political ramifications of “The Arab Spring.”

The second book is non-fiction. Its title speaks to its content – PUT ME IN, COACH – Reclaiming the Fun in Youth Sports. This is a book many parents will buy to give to their kids’ coaches to read. And many coaches will buy to give to their players’ parents to read.

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

I’m on a reading break at the moment. But I’m anxious to get to Doug Dorow’s thriller, THE NINTH DISTRICT.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

I am motivated to write by three goals: to entertain, to educate, and to enlighten. All my books have these inspirations at their core.

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

I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to grant me this interview.

Readers can find out more about my books, including samples to read and video trailers to watch, at my Independent Author Network Member Page here: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/john-l-betcher.html

My books are all available to buy at Amazon.com, in paperback and Kindle formats, here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=john+betcher&x=0&y=0

And at Amazon UK here:


You're very welcome, John. It's been a pleasure learning about your novels. Be sure to let us know when the next Becker book is ready!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 Questions with Novelist William D. Collins (@BillDCollins)

This Author Spotlight features novelist William D. Collins. William lives in Colorado with his wife and their two cats Attila and Bella. He writes full time.

1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I was about 10 years old. Even when I was a Marine during Desert Storm, and we lived in our Humvees for months, I was writing in a little notebook when I could. I make sure I have a notebook, a computer, or my AlphaSmart word processor with me everywhere I go nowadays. I love to tell stories and I knew writing full-length novels was inevitable for me.

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

I love writing the first draft when I can turn off my brain and just write. Getting lost in the process and being surprised what a character does or says is an amazing experience. Then, of course, I have to go back and edit and that can be painful because by the end of the first draft, the story has usually changed a lot.

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 generally try to write a little every day. I like to write a first draft and then go back and outline. I have tried it the other way, but I always get stuck staring at blank screens and then my Playstation starts calling me. Once I have the chaos of the first draft, I don’t feel so restricted by an outline for my revisions.

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

I admire Chuck Palahniuk. You never know what you’re going to get with him and I like the untraditional style of his books. I don’t enjoy them all, but there are many that have made my favorite list. I just discovered Jeff Strand not long ago and I love the way he writes, so I’ll definitely be reading more of his books.

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

Outside. You can’t blame it though; it was probably lonely out there.

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

My first drafts often look like someone shot each page with a comma shotgun. Then I clean it up and give it to my wife to read and she comes back and says, “Either way is right but you have to be consistent!” (The exclamation point is because she has told me this many times and I actually see the (!) over her head when she tells me again). I grudgingly go back and try to be consistent. So, I guess, I’m not committed either way.

7. What is your book A GIRL AND HER CAT about and how did it come to fruition?

“A Girl and Her Cat” is about two main characters surviving a zombie apocalypse. Jack Williams is a war veteran and he’s not all that upset about civilization collapsing. He is a character that is carrying a lot of baggage from his war experience. Thalia is a twelve-year-old girl who has lost everything except her cat. She has strange powers that she doesn’t understand and that are growing in intensity. They are both put to the test by the end of the novel.

It came to fruition from another story I was writing. I had this adult woman (named Thalia) and as I wrote her backstory I decided to put her in this zombie apocalypse novel as a child because she was an interesting character. As a veteran, I felt I had a lot to say about war. Jack was a character who was lost in his past and couldn’t break free on his own. It’s a story I wanted to tell.

8. What’s your current writing project?

It’s a story about a private investigator who has been jaded by life and the realities of the job. He gets the case of a lifetime but that challenges everything he thought he knew about himself and the world. There is a cast of colorful characters that will hopefully make people laugh and think. I worked as a private investigator for a couple years in the Washington, D.C. area and so I’m drawing on a lot of the weirdness of that world. Of course, the main character in this story is also haunted by a ghost that won’t leave him alone and causes him all sorts of aggravation.

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

I just finished “Endurance” by JA Konrath and “Wolf Hunt” by Jeff Strand. My next two, which I just started yesterday, are “Vigilante” by Claude Bouchard and “Hollowland” by Amanda Hocking.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

I find inspiration from a lot of places: movies, books, history, mythology, and even just life experiences. I am a big daydreamer, so everything I encounter I am pretty much thinking, “How can I use this in a book?”

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

I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who has bought my book so far and everyone who will in the future. It is a massive effort to get a book into its final form and I love that people take the time to read it. It really is appreciated.

My book is available on Amazon right now in ebook and print form. I also have a website and blog at www.williamdcollins.com. Thank you so much for the interview, Ryan, and best of luck in all your future endeavors.

You're very welcome, Bill.

Pick up a copy of A GIRL AND HER CAT on Amazon. And follow Bill on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BillDCollins

If you are a writer/novelist/poet and would like to be featured in an upcoming Author Spotlight, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.