Archive for April, 2015

The Magic of (Actually) Writing

abstract-glowing-light-with-stars-vector-background_53-8569Sometimes I really don’t feel like writing.

In fact, to be honest, most days I don’t feel like writing, not at first anyway.

But regardless of how I feel, I try to write at least five days a week.

That’s the not so good news, not feeling like writing and then writing anyway.

But here’s the good news: Once I start writing, something magic often happens and the words flow and for some period of time I am transported outside of myself, into another world.

I lose track of time. I lose track of whether I’ve eaten. I just keep going and going like some crazed, literary version of the Duracell Bunny.

Here’s the best news I’ve got for you today: That magic has NO chance of happening if you and I don’t start writing. And I firmly believe that the best writing happens when we’re writing, not when we’re thinking of writing or planning on writing, but when we’re actually putting fingers to keyboard or pen/pencil to paper.

Oftentimes, I worry about how this scene is going to come out, or how I’m going to portray that character. I worry about pacing, plot, arcs, denouement, and a thousand other things. But these things tend to work themselves out during the writing process. It is miraculous. Yes, since I’ve become a writer, I’ve come to believe in miracles. We all should. I’m not sure books get written any other way. For think of the power of the imagination and what you can do when you express your ideas on paper.

My writing blocks come when I worry about writing, when I obsess about writing, when I focus on planning to write. Usually that anxiety disappears when I actually start writing.

If you’re suffering from writer’s block this might be the problem. You are worrying about what your writing is going to look like, how it’s going to sound.

But again, more good news. We’re not neurosurgeons. We don’t have to get it “right” the first time around, or the second, or third, or thirteenth, really. We just have to keep striving.

As I said on Facebook the other day, I have a long way to go to become the writer I want to be, but today I’m a little closer to that goal than I was yesterday. And for that I’m grateful. But I’m only closer to that goal if I write today. Because I’ve come to learn the hard way that we don’t improve our writing by thinking about writing, about having great ideas that we are one day going to commit to paper. We get better by actually doing it.

Will we make mistakes? Of course! Remember perfectionism is a demon that defeats you before you even begin, it is crippling. Make mistakes! For when we make mistakes it shows that we are writing, which is the best thing writers can do, if we’re striving to become the best writers we can be.

All the very best, and keep writing,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 30, 2015 at 6:43 am

Categories: Writing   Tags:

A Confession Re: Writing Novels

old-typewriter-and-typist_2966154I have a confession to make.

I can’t write a novel.

It’s true, I really can’t.

The fact that I’ve had two novels published and am working on a third doesn’t render my confession false.

But what’s going on here?

Either I’m mad or I’m lying.

The fact of the matter is that writing a novel is a maddening prospect.

As George Orwell said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

The thing is, I doubt Orwell could write a  novel. Or Dostoevsky. Or Tolstoy, for that matter.

What?

But these are some of the greatest novelists the world has ever known!

Now, you say, that Matthew Peters has certainly gone off the deep end.

But what I mean is that writing a novel is too difficult to consider as a whole. There are simply too many things to keep track of: word choice, pacing, characterization, character arcs, plot, subplots, theme, imagery, when to reveal what, how to build to a climax, how to provide resolution, etc., etc., etc.

What we writers are capable of is writing a single chapter or, as I like to think of it, a single scene.

And, that to me, is one of the most important things I’ve learned about writing: you just do it one scene at a time.

To do otherwise is overwhelming.

The fact of the matter is that breaking things down to their component parts helps.

Anne Lamott, in her incomparable book, Bird by Bird, admits that writing can be daunting. She talks about how she keeps a one-inch picture frame on her desk.

Lamott says of the one–inch picture frame: “It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.”

She also recalls E. L. Doctorow’s sage advice that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Lamott adds, “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

When all else fails, I break down writing to its smallest component: the word. One word. I use a trick I call the one word challenge. It works like this:

Open up your WIP. Yes, I know, this is often the most difficult part, but trust me on this one.

Read the last sentence you wrote (not more than this, because then you’ll want to start editing and editing can be a form of procrastination if you haven’t finished a complete draft yet).

Now, write one word you feel could come next.

Force yourself to stop with that one word.

Here’s the thing: I’ll bet you can’t stop at one word. Just like potato chips it’s hard to stop at one.

Try this next time you’re stuck, and please let me know how it works out for you.

 

All the best and keep writing,

Matt

 

A version of this post originally appeared on Margaret Mendel’s blog, Fish Kicker, on April 1, 2015.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 23, 2015 at 7:58 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , , ,

An Interview with Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks

Welcome Anne and Ken!

Anne and Ken Mirror

I am so excited to have you on my blog. I have to start off by saying how impressed I am with your book Praise Her, Praise Diana. I read it in two days and was absolutely captivated by it. Here is a link to my review on Amazon. As I wrote in my review, if I could, I would have given it six stars. It is a such a spellbinding read and an enormous achievement.

 

Can you tell us a little about the book?

The main character is Jane Larson, a lawyer in Manhattan.  She is a single practitioner who also represents a women’s rights organization that had been founded by her mother.  Maggie is her new client and has written a book that chronicles a horrific rape of a woman called Diana and the revenge taken by Diana as she seduces and kills men.  When chapters of the book are published in serial form, an unknown woman takes over the persona of Diana and begins to imitate the book’s action by killing and castrating men. Women who have been abused find Diana to be an inspirational figure, and a radical faction begins to fight back in her name.  But the presence of Diana also affects women in many ways including other of Jane’s clients.  Soon violence erupting throughout New York City is spiraling out of control. As the police try desperately to identify Diana, Jane Larson finds herself at the center of an investigation that threatens to upend the entire world around her.

 

The book deals with the issue of rape. What made you want to address this topic?

When we were just out of college, we had a close friend who was raped.  The idea of it stuck in our imaginations and gradually grew through several drafts into this book. We hoped to show that rape is not a sexual act, but rather a gross assertion of power. As we thought about it, we realized that sexual harassment is a similar assertion of power even though through other means. In either case, revenge is not a useful response because it does not mend the psychological harm, but only makes things worse.

 

How long did it take you to write?

This is a very difficult question to answer since the book evolved over the course of many years from a much shorter version.  In between the time spent working on Diana, we wrote a number of other novels.  However, it is safe to say that certain aspects of the plot changed because so much time passed between the initial drafts and the final and along the way we learned how to be more effective writers.  Certain parts of the content also changed.  For example, the world now has social media, which was a part of the plot.

 

What kind of research did you do?

Ken is an attorney and is familiar with family law and New York courts and has had some experience dealing with Grand Juries as well.  For this reason, no research was required specifically for the law related parts of the book since he had already done the work in school and during the course of his job.  Anne went to Bryn Mawr College, where feminism was always “in the air”, so to speak.  Anne and Ken both came of age in the Sixties when many of us were angry and the concept of radical action was a fact of life.

 

What have the reactions to the book been like?

We have been very happy with the reactions of all of the readers and reviewers so far.  Most have remarked on the high quality of the writing and the fast pace and intricacy of the story.  Many readers have also mentioned that the book deals with difficult, important issues in sensitive ways.  We are especially grateful to hear that because we consider the topic of rape and sexual harassment to be relevant today and we wanted to present the issues from various points of view and through an array of characters.

 

The book is beautifully written. Did you find it difficult to write about such a horrific topic in such a lyrical way?

We deliberately established Maggie as the author of the book within the book where the rape is described so that readers would accept the convention of the writing being highly imaginative.  The book Maggie writes is part of her own struggle and we try to convey the welter of her emotions rising to the surface and threatening to break through at any time by the long sentences and deliberate overlap, repetition or even contradiction of certain remembered material.  Likewise, her reactions to her recollection of the incident and the way her interaction with Jane helps her write are part of the larger story.  But the device of having a character in the book be the author of these scenes provided us with some additional distance and allowed the use of a lyrical style.

 

What was the best part about writing the book?

After we had the book accepted by a publisher and we read through it for edits and proofing, we were really pleased with the results.  Although we always work hard on our writing, we felt especially good about Praise Her, Praise Diana.

 

The worst part?

As with any book, the worst part is getting rejections from agents and publishers and wondering what else we could do to make this a better book.

 

What did you learn from writing the book?

Personally, we both learned that it is important to take chances with the way that a story is presented, such as using many points of view and setting up the book within a book device.  Both of these can be minefields.  On a more personal level, we learned that one of the central tragedies of the book was the inability of a character (whose name we don’t want to disclose because it might be a spoiler) to either forgive herself or to accept forgiveness.

 

Do you have any advice for people who want to write about difficult subjects?

Accept the fact that you may have to rewrite numerous times.  Don’t give up if it isn’t the way you want it right away.  Believe in the importance of your idea.  And forget about trying to please your reader with banal pleasantries or a Hollywood ending.

 

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to address?

When we start a book, we have a pretty good idea of the overall arc of the plot and the message we want to convey, if not the exact progression of scenes that will get us to the end. It can be an incredible experience when a character, initially envisioned as minor, becomes more important and seems to force his or her way into the action.  They almost seem to take on a life of their own.  Judith and Detective Smalley are two such characters.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kenneth-Hicks-and-Anne-Rothman-Hicks/622272714477979

http://randh71productions.com/blog/

https://twitter.com/KenHicksnyc

http://www.melange-books.com/authors/hicks/diana.html

http://www.amazon.com/Praise-Her-Diana-Anne-Rothman-Hicks-ebook/dp/B00NVDGCIM

http://www.lulu.com/shop/anne-rothman-hicks-and-ken-hicks/praise-her-praise-diana/paperback/product-21837649.html

 

Thank you so much for coming by today. It has been an honor and a privilege.

Diana Cover

 

Excerpt:

“But … but it’s really so … so completely obvious,” Judith stuttered. “Thongs are totally uncomfortable and barely function for their purpose, and women wear them anyway just to avoid a panty line showing through their pants or skirt.”

“Are you speaking from personal experience?” Dr. Suzy asked coyly, eliciting loud laughs from her small audience. Judith seethed at the thought of them imagining what was beneath her clothes. She clasped her hands tightly in her lap, struggling for control, trying to think of some response.

Jane interrupted.

“In all fairness to Judith,” she said in the calm clear voice that Judith hoped for in herself, with the tone of a teacher who is not yet angry but certainly perturbed with her class, “I’ve never been nailed to a cross either, but I can imagine that I wouldn’t like it.”

Relief flooded through Judith. She felt like she could breathe again.

“Well, Jane,” Susan continued. “Since you’ve taken up the argument for Judith, let me ask you this. What’s wrong with not wanting to show panty lines? Do you find panty lines attractive?”

“That depends on whose panty lines we’re looking at I guess,” Jane replied. Once again there was laughter among the guests, but this time it was not at all malicious. Susan smiled; she knew it was coming across well even if she had lost her patsy. “But seriously,” Jane continued. “This is Judith’s point, I think. If women choose their underwear only to make their rear-ends sleek and sexy, they’ve fallen into the trap of acting like objects and deriving their sense of worth from the approving glance of a man.”

“So anything that might attract a man, or, God forbid, turn him on, is taboo?” Susan asked. “What about make-up?”

“You’ll have to ask Judith that one. I haven’t thought this through with the care that she obviously has. But let me raise another example of the difference between men and women today that I have been thinking about lately. The woman who calls herself Diana has now killed two men in apparently random style, after luring them for sex. And it seems to me that if the victims of this sexual predator had been women, a chill would have gone up and down my spine that I frankly was not feeling with Diana. And it seems to me also that this time it’s the man’s turn to be worried about going home with his date—to be afraid of being attacked for no other reason than he is a man.”

Jane paused. Those listening were completely silent.

Then Susan said, “But I get to keep my make-up?”

“I’ll vote for it!” Jane replied.

The tension was broken. Susan was grinning again, as was the audience. Judith wanted to reach across and throttle Susan. Jane had said something incredibly important about Diana—that she was reversing the established order, striking out for women everywhere—and Dr. Suzy was deflecting its impact with a big joke. Shame!

“Well, this is all very interesting stuff, Jane,” Susan continued. “But it raises another question. What if the woman is wearing thong underwear to attract another woman? Is it still wrong? Judith, maybe you could answer that one for us?”

Susan’s whole manner changed again from the bantering joviality that she had engaged in with Jane to cloying condescension. But Judith had recovered herself by this point.

“I could,” she said. “But frankly your question offends me. Whenever a woman stands up and tries to speak her mind, the first defense of a man is to call her a lesbian, an emasculator, a butch! And your question does the same thing, Susan. It shifts the focus from something important that Jane said, to something silly—a woman waggling her ass to attract another woman.”

“Are you saying that women don’t try to attract other women?” Susan asked belligerently.

“I’m saying that they attract them with the strength of their minds and the suppleness of their thoughts, not with their bodies.”

“Well that’s an insight that I’m not sure I agree with, Judith,” Susan said, interrupting her again. “But we’ll break for a few minutes, and when we come back the switchboard will be open for questions from our listeners.”

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 21, 2015 at 5:32 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

Book Marketing 101: What I’m Learning

old-book--book_19-124575I hope this post saves you money and energy.

Let’s start with a common refrain: something’s happened in the book world in the past few years, something that’s made selling books extremely difficult. This especially holds true for indie and small press authors.

I had two novels come out last year, both with small presses. I can say with certainty that marketing my books has proven very challenging.

Here’s a list of things I’ve tried:

 

  1. Posting in Facebook groups/doing paid ads on Facebook
  2. Tweeting about my books
  3. Doing a virtual book tour
  4. Hiring a publicist to help with promotion
  5. Doing radio shows
  6. Holding a book launch
  7. Doing readings/signings at bookstores
  8. Creating Facebook pages for both novels
  9. Telling everyone I know about my books
  10. Reading tons of stuff in books and online about marketing and promoting

These are the things I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more.

The bottom line? None of these have proven singly effective in selling books.What has been most effective is meeting people in person and online and forming relationships with them.

There is one last marketing venue I’m considering: Bookbub.  I’ve heard nothing but good things from authors who have been accepted and advertised through them. If you’ve had any experiences with Bookbub, please share them in the comments.

So several hundred dollars and not a tremendous number of book sales later where do things stand?

After reading endlessly and talking to numerous authors and readers, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to sell a book is to write another one. This is particularly true for those of us who write series.

However, I say this with some trepidation.

Now, I am not opposed to writing more books. After all, I consider myself an author, and that’s what authors do.

What I am opposed to is increasing quantity at the expense of quality.

Let’s face it: Amazon and other publishing services don’t really care about the quality of books we put out there. They’re just interested in skimming profits off the top. But the fact of the matter is we should care about the quality of the books we publish because they are a reflection on all of us in the writing community.

So let’s forge relationships and let’s write more books, but let’s also make sure they are of high quality. Everyone benefits that way. And let’s keep sharing our marketing experiences so we know what works and what doesn’t. Because at the end of the day, professionally speaking, all we have is one another.

May we take pride in that.

Yours in writing,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 19, 2015 at 8:30 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: ,

The Tarzan Approach to Quitting Unwanted Habits

Tarzan_of_the_Apes_in_colorOkay, so maybe it’s not Tarzan exactly.

But it does have something to do with a quote by Edgar Rice Burroughs, in his book The Beasts of Tarzan:

“We are, all of us, creatures of habit, and when the seeming necessity for schooling ourselves in new ways ceases to exist, we fall naturally and easily into the manner and customs which long usage has implanted ineradicably within us.”

The fact of the matter is, and here I’m sharing one of the best insights I know when it comes to quitting unwanted habits, we are all creatures of habit: for good or ill.

This is an incredibly simple, yet awesomely powerful realization.

Let’s step back for a moment and figure out exactly what it means when it comes to quitting unwanted habits, like smoking and drinking.

First, it’s all about our daily routine.

And the fact of the matter is this: if you don’t do something every day for a long enough time, you really won’t miss it!

This occurred to me when I quit smoking. I smoked on and off for years, and when I smoked I often did a pack a day. I can’t begin to tell you how much I looked forward to that morning cigarette, especially with a hot cup of coffee. I thought there was no way in hell I’d ever be able to wake up and not want a cigarette. But you know what? I’ve been waking up every day for the past several years without even thinking about smoking.

How did I do it?

Well, at first I used the patch, which worked for me, but may not be right for everyone. Please check with your doctor before you consider using something like that. But more importantly, it was a matter of waking up and not having a cigarette for enough days in a row, to the point where I even stopped thinking about smoking in the morning.

How does this work? Well, I don’t know the physiological and psychological details, but it revolves around the fact that we are creatures of habit, just like Burroughs says. Fact: if you wake up enough mornings without smoking a cigarette you will stop craving a cigarette in the morning. That’s right: we are creatures of habit for good or for ill.

The same is true for drinking, although of course you may need to be medically detoxed from alcohol. Again, check with your doctor.

Let’s take religion out of it. And let’s side-step the question whether alcoholism/addiction is a disease. The fact of the matter is if you go enough days without drinking, you lose the habit of drinking. Why? Because you’ve essentially created the habit of not drinking, just like you create the habit of not smoking by waking up enough mornings without lighting a cigarette.

Now, how many days do you have to go without a cigarette or a drink before you get into the habit of not drinking or smoking? That answer differs from person to person. It might be several days, it might even be weeks, but the great news is: it gets better. You will not always crave a cigarette or a drink as badly as you do when you first quit. There may be times when a craving surfaces, but if you just hang in there long enough, it will pass. Please trust me on this one.

The rest of the Burroughs’s quote reminds us that when we stop trying to implement a new behavior (e.g., when we stop developing alternatives to drinking and smoking) then we fall back into our old ways, which is pretty darn accurate in my experience.

I have found this insight remarkably powerful when it comes to quitting unwanted habits. Truth be told, it’s also helped me instill some good ones, too, like writing a certain number of words a day.

That’s right. Start by writing a certain number of words a day—I do 500—and then do that every day for a certain number of days. Given long enough you will find yourself actually missing writing if you skip a day.

Do you have a habit you’d like to give up?

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

Categories: Addiction   Tags: , , , ,

An Interview with Sandy (S. L.) Carlson

Welcome, Sandy!

I’d like to start off by saying that Sandy has a middle grade historical fiction, THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED,

The Town That Disappeared 333x500 Sandys

available as a free Kindle version from April 14-16! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BN9JXM8

2014 Sandy Mac Isle

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am a former teacher and currently etching my way as a full time author, and may or may not have seen mythical creatures in the woods. I have seven books published, the latest being WAR UNICORN. Presently, I am halfway through the sequel. (Disclaimer: There’s a dragon in the second book.)

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

I adore fantasy (reading and writing and daydreaming about), but I also write historical fiction. Both genres are for the 8-14 year old reader, although I have many adult readers, as well.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I have no agent, although I know several and they know me (conferences).  I self-published the historical fictions because I figured they are of more local interest, but I would love to be proved wrong.

MuseItYoung contracted WAR UNICORN, which was published last fall as an eBook. I hope to have it in print by this fall, because this reader age prefers paper to electronic books. Before submitting to MUSE, I had traditionally published authors read the manuscript, so thought it was rather well polished…WOW, what a difference having professional editors make. (Thank you, Chris and Nancy!)

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Whatever you’ve heard about being successful, it’s probably either lies or luck. THEREFORE, if your heart is in writing, never give up. Ever.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Hands down: C.S. Lewis, only it wouldn’t be a conversation. I would just be sitting nearby hanging on his every logical and complex word.

 

What makes good writing?

Lots of reading of books in your genre. Lots of reading of books not in your genre. Lots of time reading books on the craft of writing, attending conferences, webinars, etc. Thinking (about plot and character, mostly). Getting your main character into trouble which you don’t know how to get him or her out of. Being in a critique group which is not made up of family or friends. Setting down your manuscript for a time (even years) and either trashing it or deep revising it and starting the processing all over (reading, thinking, writing, critiquing, and revising). Writing a story where the reader is so involved with your words they forget where they are.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

There are different kinds of happy endings.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

This question would assume I AM sane.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

I was in the middle of a Jules Verne book and was so engrossed that when I looked up, it took me a couple minutes to figure out where I was. This also happened a couple times with C.S. Lewis’ SF trilogy.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

My writing motto has always been: Family Comes First.  So spending quality time with family and raising our kids (v.s. someone else), working to help pay the bills, getting involved in community services, etc. take president over my time. STILL, I wiggle in writing room.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Figuring out all the non-writing stuff related to the business (e.g., social media, reviews, interviews, marketing, promotion, talking with bookstore owners, arranging  presentations, and so much more.) Ah, if all I had to do was write (and revise), I’d be golden.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Always. I was actually a storyteller first, but always loved to write. As a kid I’d write chapter stories with my friends and me in it. I suppose now I consider myself a writer when I’m writing. (i.e., it has nothing to do with getting published, but being a storyteller)

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Have fun reading. Escape into the minds and worlds inside the stories. Enjoy. Read more.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

Neither. In both cases I have dents in walls of my house where I’ve thrown books I’ve been disappointed in. Plaster and paint are my friends.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

Making the second (and following) stories just as exciting and interesting to think about and write as the first time ‘round.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

Nope. One friend I have will take a week off of work to complete a rough drafted novel in that time, and then get back to the revisions as work time allows. For me, there are just some non-writing days, but that doesn’t mean I’m not THINKING about writing or my WIP.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Website & Blog: www.sandycarlson.com

Pinterest boards: http://www.pinterest.com/authorsandycarl/

Twitter: @sandycarl (authorsandycarl)

FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/sandycarl

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=149756032&trk=hp-identity-photo

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5770699.Sandy_Carlson

Amazon Central Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/sandycarlson

 

Thank you, Sandy. Please keep us posted in your latest developments.

 

 

WAR UNICORN by S.L. Carlson, published by MuseItYoung, September 2014

War Unicorn 300dpi

BACK COVER BLURB/ SUMMARY:

Reginald of Red River is content working in his family’s apple orchard—or as content as a fourteen-year-old-boy can be digging holes and dreaming of magic—when he digs up an antique ring and releases a rude unicorn. She claims she belongs to the king, but after her long imprisonment, she can’t tell Reg which king that might be. Reg promises to take her to the capital and deliver her to the palace, and suddenly a simple three-day trip turns into the adventure of a lifetime.

War is building on his country’s borders, and even with the help of Reg’s new friend Iggy, and Gwen, the general’s daughter, it’s going to take all the courage—and magic—Reg has to find the unicorn’s rightful king. Promises will be made, the bonds of family and friendship will be tested, and war will change everything.

Can an apple farmer and one rude war unicorn save their country from the massive approaching enemy?

 

FROM CHAPTER ONE OF WAR UNICORN:

A pulse beat within his pocket, like a heartbeat of a bird or frog, but without a moving body. He drew out the ring and held it to his ear, listening. He shook it. His own heartbeat quickened and then slowed to the same rhythm of the ring. He took out his knife and jimmied the lid, flipping it open on an unseen hinge.

Suddenly, the flanks of a white horse appeared, and Reg rolled into the dirt pile to escape the flying hooves. The animal ran about ten paces and then spun, lashing out with its powerful hind legs, neighing loudly. She was a beautiful horse, with perfectly formed muscles—but her eyes looked ready to kill. If fire could flare from an animal’s eyes, Reg felt certain it could come from this one. She looked angry enough to pull the tree root out with her teeth.

Something protruded from her forehead—a long thin branch. Was she hurt? It made her look like a unicorn from one of his mother’s hearth stories.

“It’s okay, beauty.” Reg made a reassuring clicking sound. “I’ll get that out for you.” He waved his hand and sang a calming song. His cracking voice couldn’t calm a boulder, but he sang out of habit.

As her front hooves touched the ground, she bounced back up, head down, branch pointing at Reg, and charged at him.

Reg rolled out of the way. He looked over his shoulder for another assault, afraid the dangerous creature might charge his sisters near the house. But she was gone, vanished as quickly as she had appeared. She wasn’t toward the river or close to the north woods. He scanned the apple orchard near their house. Nothing unusual.

Reg released his breath, and then breathed in softly as he listened to his land. His fire crackled and wind whispered through dried grass in the field. He could barely hear the Red River rapids in the distance. Perhaps his older sister, Sasha, saw the horse come her way. She spent so much time down there lately. Reg listened harder. He heard the breeze rustling leaves in the apple orchard near their house, where Mercy and Ann were singing to the trees. Their voices were worth listening to.

Something was missing. Birds. Birds always chirped and flew close to the orchard. Reg would have thought the whole white horse incident was merely his imagination if not for the silence of the birds.

Then, just as quickly, the birds started up again.

Reg blinked. “How peculiar.”

The red gems on the closed ring glinted from the orange blaze. It must have closed when he rolled away from the horse. Reg opened the lid again. In another rush of wind, the white horse reappeared and kicked with her hind legs. She ran wildly and leapt, barely clearing the flames at the last minute. She turned, snorted, and stomped her large front hooves. Her ears lay flat against her head as she stared at him from the other side of the fire. The horn—he was sure it was a horn now—flickered orange. She stood still, breathing heavily, fire in her eyes. Or perhaps that was just the reflection. Reg extended his arms and re-sang the calming song. It seemed like the unicorn cringed. She stared at his finger with the box-ring on it.

Carefully watching the beast, he held a finger over the open ring top. As Reg shut the lid, he heard a mournful, “Noo!”

The unicorn disappeared.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

An Interview with Lex Allen

Welcome, Lex!

New Bio 2 Alt

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.

Bullet list: Texas Expatriate – Ex Soldier – Ex Civil Servant (US DoD) – Full time writer – Part time musician – Full time Dad – Part time Grandpa – Husband (33 years). I am currently putting the finishing touches on the third book in my Imagine Trilogy, No Religion. Well into draft of next novel, Boomer and a second collection of paranormal/horror short stories.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

Thrillers, Soft Science Fiction, Paranormal Horror. I don’t know that “soft science fiction” is actually a genre. I use it to describe Sci-Fi that isn’t high tech, interplanetary space or robotic.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I’m lazy, have no marketing skills and I am often not as disciplined as I should be when it comes to actually sitting down and writing.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I’m self-published. See above – “lazy.” Writing the synopsis, blurbs, elevator whatever they are, and query letters to agents, editors and publishers wore me out after only 15 attempts. Although the responses weren’t all form letter rejections, they were rejections all the same. Most indicated that the writing was good, premise very good, but… it was too controversial or “doesn’t fit our current program.” Saw what was happening on Amazon with indie writers and my gut told me to go for it. I always listen to my gut!

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Unless you love it, really love it and you aren’t in it for the money and have some talent (other than your own ego); do something else. Not only will you be happier, your potential peers in the indie writing business will be happy, too.

 

What are your three favorite books?

The Dark Tower Series (ok…7 books) by Stephen King, Intensity by Dean Koontz and State of Fear by Michael Crichton.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

Stephen King. I think he’s the hardest and longest, active working author ever. I admire his writing style and ability to reach places, beyond reality, that few people would ever know without his books and stories.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Sorry, can’t keep it to one. There are so many people I’d like to talk with, both dead and alive. Emperor Constantine would be one. Buddha and the Dalai Lama, too. I’d also like to talk with Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci. Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Neil Young would be high on my list. There are more…but…

 

What are you currently reading?

The Brothers’ Keepers by Matthew Peters (wink) (no, seriously) and Fatal Seduction by Harry James Krebs (a crime/detective thriller).

 

What makes good writing?

Like beauty, I think good writing is in the eye of the beholder; always assuming that the writing is literate and free of many errors.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Yes, definitely; but I would prefer readers ‘get it’ without my prompting.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

I think retaining one’s ‘sanity’ is overrated.  I’ve seen several definitions for sanity/insanity and the only one that makes sense is Einstein’s, “Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” Normalcy, sanity and conformance are not challenging, adventurous or fun. Writing allows me to explore the opposite of sanity and that’s challenging, adventurous and fun.

 

If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. I’d probably flip a coin.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

I was in my early 20’s when Carrie by Stephen King was published. That book rekindled a dormant and dying ember within me to write. I started writing short stories, then song lyrics and finally novels.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

Boomer. It’s going to be my next book, but not an autobiography. Curious? Great!

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

For the most part, I’ve sacrificed writing for other things…job, family, etc. Even now, as a full-time author…I’m constantly being pulled away from the desk to handle this, that or something other…lol.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Initially, I was still working a full time job at the Department of Defense in Germany. Later, it was a major move of household, and renovation of a 107 year old farm house with barn and outbuildings. Now…now, I read and write (on my books and book reviews), play guitar, perform occasionally and my only obstacle is laziness (and the occasional this, that and something other). It’s a great life!

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

Best – I let my imagination flow free and share it with others. Least – it takes too long to achieve perfection, and in the end, you have to settle for something a bit less than perfect. That bothers me some.

 

What did you learn anything from writing your books?

It took about 5 years of research and 3 years of writing to get No Heaven finished. Another year and half for No Hell. To date, No Religion is a little more than two years in the works and still a couple of months from publication. The lesson? All those ideas that race through your head at the speed of light, take considerably more time to reach a point of near perfection and actual publication. So, don’t get frustrated and don’t rush it; all good things come to he who is patient and diligent.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In High School, my English Lit teacher was constantly telling me that I should write fiction as a profession. I intended following her advice but a war got in the way and it took many years for me to come back to it.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Stephen King. When I get stuck somewhere in my writing or suffer a bout of writer’s block, I read Stephen King. That gets me so fired up and inspired that I have to write…immediately.

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Yes! Thank you for your support and please continue to support other independent authors and self-publishers whenever you can.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

Are you kidding? Either…or both! LOL

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

I’ve read several of the former and very few of the latter. I’d prefer to read a well written story with an intriguing premise. I generally don’t finish the others.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

Let me start by stating, unequivocally, that after completing my current trilogy, I will never write another trilogy or series. So, having said that…what was the question, again? ;o)

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

Jaein (German for yes and no). Most successful writers will tell the newcomer, “Write every day, no matter what or how many words, just write.” Well, I can’t do that. There are days when nothing works and I hate wasting time writing crap that I’ll have to rewrite at least twice, later. On the other hand, I’ve often compared writing to feeding a tiger. That tiger sits in my writing room and her food is my written word. If I don’t feed her for several days…well, it’s very hard to enter the room of a starving tiger, but enter you must.

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Introverted (except on stage), loyal, trustworthy, a fighter (against injustice of all kinds), and imaginative.

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

My name, Lex Allen, is neither my legal name, nor a pseudonym, per se.

 

If you could marry a fictional character, which would it be?

Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Washburn, a lead character in the Imagine Trilogy. My wife was the inspiration for Beth.

 

What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had?

LOL. None. Your interview is by far the most in-depth I’ve done to date. Any question that you haven’t asked would likely be one I’d prefer not to answer!

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Website: www.lexallen.com

Blog: www.lexslore.blogspot.de

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lex.allen2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lexallenbooks

 

I am currently tied to Amazon through KDP Select. My ebooks and paperbacks are available through all regional/country Amazon websites. Here are the US and UK links.

No Heaven:

http://www.amazon.com/No-Heaven-Imagine-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00AZ3LBRI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427664963&sr=1-1&keywords=No+Heaven+by+lex+allen

http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Heaven-Imagine-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00AZ3LBRI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427665173&sr=1-1&keywords=Lex+Allen

Kein Himmel (The German language edition of No Heaven)

http://www.amazon.de/Kein-Himmel-Die-Imagine-Trilogie-ebook/dp/B00B7EE1NK/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1427665240&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=kein+himmel+von+lex+allen

No Hell:

http://www.amazon.com/No-Hell-Imagine-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00BN1SO4Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427664990&sr=1-2&keywords=No+Heaven+by+lex+allen

http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Hell-Imagine-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00BN1SO4Y/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427665314&sr=1-3&keywords=Lex+Allen

Lovably Dead: (A collection of paranormal/horror short stories)

http://www.amazon.com/Lovably-Dead-Lex-Allen-ebook/dp/B0068QWSY6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427665059&sr=1-1&keywords=lovably+dead+by+lex+allen

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lovably-Dead-Lex-Allen-ebook/dp/B0068QWSY6/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427665354&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=lovably+deadLex+Allen

 

Thanks, Lex! Please keep us posted on your latest developments.

3books-lexallen

 

 

Excerpt from No Heaven

“My name is Eloah. Two thousand years ago, your ancestors knew me as Yeshua, son of Joseph or perhaps, as you now remember me, Jesus – Son of God. I will use the name Jesus again.”

The tourists and the faithful alike all stared at the self-proclaimed Jesus, mesmerized. For the second time today, Jack had a sense of tunnel vision. The would-be messiah had captured his attention almost as strongly as Beth had, but obviously not for the same reason. Jack felt every hair on his body prickle. If he’d been outside he would have run for cover, sure that lighting was about to strike.

Jesus continued, “Fear not, for I have not come to herald the end of days as prophesied in your Bible. I have returned to save this world from a nuclear holocaust that will occur in a war between the three major religions. I bear an inadvertent contribution to this pending disaster by the founding of the Christian religion.

“A religion established in my name, but based upon a misinterpretation of my words and intent; by a resurrection miracle that did not occur. The Christian religion was generated by men of power seeking to control humanity through fear; the fear of death and the hope of an unnecessary salvation.”

If this was a practical joke, no one was laughing. Jesus’ softly spoken words had somehow carried through the entire cathedral, but no one else made a sound. “My purpose will become clearer in the coming days. In the interim, I have a message for the Catholic Pope.”

Jesus looked toward the camera in the back of the cathedral is if he were staring the Pope in the eyes. “Pope John Paul, your church holds documents written by me and Mary Magdalene. I require them to be released to independent scholars —independent of the Church—for authenticity testing. Following authentication, I demand the contents of these documents be released to all of the world’s media within ninety-six hours. I don’t believe a threat for non-compliance is necessary. However, perhaps you will re-read your own Bible, Mark 11:15 through 17.

“These verses describe how I entered the Temple and set about turning over the tables of the money changers. They relate to how I pulled seats out from under the men who were selling birds for sacrifice. The recorded events tell of how I admonished those who would make a house of prayer into a business. I tell you now that what is written there is but a small piece of what I actually did that day, and nothing compared to what I will do if you fail to release these documents.

“I came then in peace, but I carried a sword and I will do so again. This time, however, my patience has worn thin; heed my words of peace or witness the wrath of my sword!”

Jesus appeared to have finished his speech and focused his gaze directly on Jack. Though Jesus did not move his lips, Jack heard the words, “Follow me.”

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to jar loose the big chunk of crazy that must have lodged itself in his brain. When he opened his eyes, he saw that Jesus had locked eyes with Beth. He hadn’t shown any expression for Jack, but he flashed a smile at Beth, and she nodded as if acknowledging a command. Jesus then pivoted and exited the Sacristy through the back.

“What the hell…” Before Jack could get his question out, Beth tightened her grip on his arm and pulled him forward. He thought about grabbing a hold of her and demanding some answers, but decided that for now he’d go along for the ride. After all, he had come here trying to find Heinz’s elusive “gentle man.”

He hadn’t expected him to be “Jesus” and he certainly hadn’t expected to hear him exhorting the Pope. Regardless, he was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. He hesitated only long enough to gently remove Beth’s hand, nod that he was with her and follow as she ran toward the altar.

Heinz was standing near the door that Jesus had gone through a few seconds earlier. He reached out and grabbed Jack’s arm, stopping him long enough to say, “He cured me!  My reward, he cured me!”

Tears were running down his cheeks, and Jack thought he’d never seen happier tears than these. It took him a moment to realize that Heinz was speaking. Dazed at this new revelation, Jack was at a loss for words. The urgency of following Beth and Jesus was such that all Jack could do was smile and pat Heinz on the shoulder. That was all he had time or sensibility for.

“Jack! This way!”

Beth’s voice cleared the fog and he managed a quick, “Good for you, Heinz – good for you,” before turning away to catch up with Beth.

He followed her through the door, then a narrow hallway leading off to the right. They entered a large room filled with cabinets, chests and tables. Straight ahead was a door and off to their left, another. Beth went straight, but Jack reached forward and grabbed her wrist, swinging her to the left. From what he knew of the Dome’s layout, the door on the left would lead to the exit, while the other would take them deeper into the Sacristy.

He was right. The door at the end of the tunnel swung open to reveal an alleyway. Out of the corner of his eye, Jack glimpsed a figure as it moved through a doorway in one of the adjoining buildings.

“I see him! Come on.” He grabbed Beth’s hand and ran after the figure, reaching the doorway in a few strides. He pulled on the wrought-iron handle, but the door wouldn’t budge.

Beth put her hands over his and added her strength to the effort, but it didn’t help. Without being told, she put her palms flat on the door at the same time Jack did and they shoved together. It held fast.

“Where could he have gone?” Beth asked.

“I saw him go through here,” Jack replied.

“I did too, just as we came from the Dome.” She put her hands on her hips and sighed.

Jack continued to examine the door. He didn’t see a lock, though there could be one on the inside. Even if there wasn’t though, the hinges were rusted enough to be frozen. With an hour and a good tool set, he could probably open it, but Beth didn’t look like someone who could wait an hour and he didn’t have any tools.

The look on her face reminded him of a little kid who just found out there’s no Santa Claus. He had a brief fantasy of busting the door down with his shoulder and earning her undying admiration, but knew better than to try it. The thing looked like solid hardwood and had iron crossties. It had probably been designed to withstand a few blows from a battering ram.

He looked at Beth and shrugged. “Any ideas?”

“None.”

They both turned in circles, looking for another exit—a window, a door or a ladder— anything. There was nothing.

“He did go through this door, didn’t he?” Beth insisted.

Jack stared at the door. “Yeah, or maybe he ascended up to heaven.”

That earned him a small smile from her, but it faded as she stared at the door. “There’s no way we’re going to get this open, is there?”

“It doesn’t look like it’s been opened this century, that’s for sure. I think we’ve lost him.”

“I think you’re right, we’ve lost him for now, but it’s alright. He’ll find us.”

Apparently satisfied with her own logic, she smiled at him as if nothing were out of the ordinary. “Listen, Jack, there’s a café not far from here where we can talk over a cup of coffee.”

He didn’t need long to consider the idea. He wanted to spend more time with her. “Sounds good to me.”

He fell into step beside her; there were a few things he wanted to ask without having to look her in the eye while he did. “Why are we trying to catch this guy?”

She stopped cold and pivoted to face him. “I think you know that. Don’t you?”

He didn’t like admitting that he’d heard a mysterious voice in his head, but in the context, he supposed it didn’t sound so bad.

He nodded. “I heard him say, ‘Follow me,’ and then I saw him look at you.”

“I’m so glad! I was starting to worry you hadn’t heard the message.” She exhaled dramatically and started walking again.

“He didn’t move his mouth when he said it,” Jack prodded.

When that got no reaction from her, he continued, “And I wouldn’t have been able to hear him even if he had spoken out loud, not with my hearing, and not from that far away. No one should have been able to hear him without a mike. Even that wouldn’t explain why everyone was listening so intently. You can’t tell me they all spoke English.”

“He had a message for us. We listened.” She said those words slowly, as if explaining something to a child.

He wondered if she realized that wasn’t any kind of explanation. “If he had a message for us, why lock us out? Why say, ‘Follow me,’ and then decide to play hide-and-seek?”

She fingered her chin for a moment before answering. “I think…I think he didn’t want us to find him. Not yet.”

“Then what the hell did he want us to find?” He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he couldn’t help laughing. This was all so absurd.

She stopped again and looked him directly in the eyes. “Each other, Jack. He wanted us to find each other.”

Once again, he wondered where he had met her. At first, he had thought she just looked like someone he had known, but now he realized it wasn’t just how she looked. It was everything about her. He ran through everything she had said and done, trying to connect her with some event in his life. He still couldn’t place her, but he realized he had overlooked something very disturbing about her.

“Beth?”

“Yes?” She tilted her head, looking up at him.

“I never told you my name.”

“And you just now noticed?” She laughed and took his hand. They had reached the café and she led him through the door.

Jack hated being out of the loop; not knowing something that someone else obviously did. It was even worse when that someone was a beautiful woman that expected him to be in the know as well.

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 9, 2015 at 5:44 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , , , , ,

An Interview with William Hatfield

Welcome, William!

 

bill2 (2)

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I was born and raised in Grayling, Michigan. I went to school at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, got my B.S. (which seems appropriate for me) in History and Interpersonal communications, minored in music. I have worked as a professional musician, which eventually brought me to Gainesville, Florida, where I still live. I worked my way through college playing gigs and working in bookstores, along with about 40 other, less impressive jobs. For years, I considered my primary employment to be as a musician, with daylighting jobs as bookstore manager. When I opened my own specialty bookstore in 1984, Novel Ideas, my self-identity reversed. I became a bookstore owner/manager, moonlighting as a musician. I wrote Captive Audience, the first in my science fiction series, Fists of Earth, in 1992. It finally got published in 2004, followed by a sequel, Duel Roles. I have a collection of short stories from multiple genres, Key Notes, and a very quirky novel based in Key West, Menu for Murder. I am currently working on the third in the Fists of Earth series, Tough Crowd, and have promised it will be released this year. I am trying to have it out before summer, but life keeps intruding. I take great pleasure in calling my series a nine-part trilogy, mainly because I have friends as anal-retentive as myself, and it drives them crazy.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I like to think I look at things a little differently than most people, including writers. I write about people. I love people. So, whether the story I’m working on is SF, LGB&T or a mystery, the characters are what drive me. On the other hand, that may just be my ego speaking, and it may not differentiate me from anyone.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I had a publisher which will remain unnamed. I now self-publish. I would be interested in testing the water again with an agent.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

I have recurring themes in writing panels I participate in. First, the obvious. You must write. And continue to find a way and time to write. Second, learn to love to edit and set your ego aside in the process. Everything you write is not perfect and ready for publication. Be willing to listen to other people’s advice. Which brings me to the third, and maybe most critical bit of advice. Learn to listen. Learn to watch. You don’t always have to contribute to a conversation. Too many people today, when talking with others, are too busy composing their next comment to listen to what is actually being said by the other person(s). You will find your best character traits, ideas, and plots while observing others. On the other hand, don’t be a creepy stalker, heh.

 

What are your three favorite books?

This is a tough one. I would say Robert E. Heinlein’s Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, James Clavell’s Shogun, and either Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird or Nevil Shute’s Round the Bend. It’s easier when someone asks your favorite 5 or 10 books. Crap, I forgot Pat Frank’s Alas Babylon. It has to be in there somewhere.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

Again, a very tough question. My favorite author tends to depend on my mood and what I want to immerse myself in. Robert E. Heinlein, James Clavell, John D. MacDonald, Rex Stout, H. Beam Piper, Larry Niven AND Jerry Pournelle, Edmond Hamilton, Alexander Kent all draw me away from the world from time to time, all for different reasons and need. But if I had to choose just one, I think it would be Nevil Shute. He makes me think. He was a master of making you view the world from someone else’s perspective. His stories were mostly about very normal people, dealing with what life threw at them.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

I don’t know that I could limit it to one person. There are so many people that impacted my thoughts and actions, and intrigue me. I think I would really like to talk to Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Madison, Adams, Jay and Franklin to find out what the founding fathers really intended regarding the constitution. Did they envision a living document, to adjust to the times or a set of rules laid in stone, based on the current times, and intended to dictate the law of the land for all time as is, late 1770s style?

 

What are you currently reading?

Keith Laumer’s Long Twilight.

 

What makes good writing?

Something that holds you, makes you read it after your wife gets up from the dining room table, when you should be writing, long after you should be in bed, that you take to the bathroom with you. A story that you think about after you finish it. And one that makes you want to know what happened after the last page.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

A simplistic one would be “Shit happens, but eventually, good things come to good people.” I am an optimist, and an incurable romantic. Most good people, despite the trials and tribulations they go through, have good-ish results. On the other hand, some of them die, after suffering horribly. Go figure.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Aside from the fact that I think you’re making an unproven assumption, I would say that finishing a piece, clicking on the button of no return, it’s going to print, ranks high. Readers saying kind and positive things, when they don’t need to, would rank very high as well.

 

If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Certainly, no one in Game of Thrones. I wouldn’t mind being Travis McGee, from John D. MacDonald’s series.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute, for sure. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Shogun and Taipan by James Clavell. All made me see things from other people’s perspectives. It’s easy to be raised in the Midwest, with a very simplistic view of the world, and not understand what a small part of reality we really know about. Having James Clavell blow me off when I tried to tell him how important his books were to me also gave tremendous insight.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

The Unlikely and relatively unrealistic Life of William Hatfield.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Harry Chapin wrote a song called Circles. “All my life’s a circle, from sunrise to sunset…” I feel my life is a continuous testimony to this concept. I have worked my entire adult life as a manager or owner in the retail bookstore industry. I worked for years as a professional musician. It’s what brought me to Florida from Michigan. I have written and published four books, and hopefully many more to follow. I have family and friends. When I’m deep into a manuscript, all the other aspects of my life become secondary. I don’t promote myself, practice, or seek out gigs, I go to work, do what I must to get through the shift, am civil with my wife, other family members and family, but don’t seek out contact or distractions. All the other things in my life that I’m pretty good at, or are important, don’t get the attention they deserve. When I try and balance everything, giving equal energy to all the facets of my life, none are as good as they could be. I end up being average. And I don’t get any writing done. I talk about it but don’t do it.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

I spent ten years trying to get anyone in the industry to even glance at my first manuscript, Captive Audience. No one was taking writers without agents, no agents were taking on new clients that hadn’t already published. At Dragon Con, in the late 1990s, I did a favor for an editor from one of the major publishing houses. She told me to send her my manuscript. It took a year and a half to get them to admit they’d lost it. And no, sending them a new copy wouldn’t circumvent the slush pile. Self-publishing, until recently, was considered a vanity-driven endeavor and looked down upon by most people. My schedule has always been too complicated, filled, and disruptive to devote enough time to write consistently. I also had what I consider to be crappy grammar training in my home town school.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

Best, getting into the groove, where I’m up too late, fall asleep thinking about the next segment in the story, musing about details while driving to work. Editing, editing, editing. Living, inhaling, wallowing in the story, tying it together finally into a very cool piece of work. Least? Not being able to find the time and energy to do the above. Something I think about too much? 4 years, 94 days until I retire from my day job. Then I can try and write full time.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I am always learning while writing, on any number of levels. I learn about people’s behavior, what is likely, unlikely, improbable, but happens anyway. I learn about myself. I learned that sometimes I learn more by the reaction to my writing, to spending time around readers, fans and people with similar likes, at conventions and such. I learned from all this that it is okay to be a nice person. That there is one totally renewable resource in this world of ours. It’s called politeness. I can be nice to someone, then immediately call up more politeness for someone else, again and again. I also learned I can bake.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

There were two phases to it. First, when I sent off the final version of Captive Audience by the publisher’s deadline, after spending two days editing nonstop, line by line. Second, when I had a friend show up at my store with a copy. I hadn’t even seen it yet, but she’d gotten hers from the publisher. There is no way, even as a writer, to describe what I felt that moment.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Joe Haldeman.

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Yes. I swear my next work, Tough Crowd, will be out this year, by summer. I know I’ve been promising, and getting distracted by life, but I’m off the pot and working hard. A sequel to Menu for Murder will also be in the very near future, hopefully by year’s end.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

Um…the one on the left? On one hand, the glory of the great moment would be wonderful, but trying to live up to it could ultimately destroy you, frustrate you continuously at the least. Continued success, even modest success, would probably be better for me.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

Obviously, both is best. But, having said that, it doesn’t matter if the paint job is beautiful if the car won’t move. It starts with a story, not with writing skills. And if you can’t come up with a worthwhile plot, maybe you’re not as good a writer as you and others believe. On the other hand, executing the transfer from excellent story to excellent final product does matter. Wait, how many hands was that?

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

Keeping track of all the strings. Plot lines, characters, timelines. I introduce characters and situations in books one and two that will resurface and matter in number three and beyond. I fight the urge to introduce something, “just in case”. If I don’t have a plan for something and it isn’t critical to the story, mood or character development, it doesn’t need to be there.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

I think they should try. But, as with any axiom, there are always caveats. Sometimes, life intrudes.

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Nice, empathetic, competent, intelligent and…honest. Dang, I couldn’t fit devilishly handsome in there somewhere?

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

Although I am an extrovert, A type, and try and display confidence in whatever I am doing, sometimes I feel very insecure, alone and shy.

 

If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be?

Heh, I’m already married, for 33 years this June. You can’t make me fall for this one… I might be dumb, but I’m not stupid.

 

What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had?

Oh, I think there were enough questions. Maybe my favorite movie? But we both know I couldn’t choose just one.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

https://www.facebook.com/bill.hatfield.167

https://www.facebook.com/William.Hatfield.Author?ref=bookmarks

http://www.amazon.com/William-Hatfield/e/B00ILVUVNQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419193965&sr=1-1

 

Thanks, William. Please keep us posted on your latest developments.

 

 

cover banner (1)

 

 Menu for Murder

 

Blurb:

Eldamar has always been considered a safe community, close knit, where neighbors watch out for each other.

When a resident’s body is found, brutally bludgeoned, everything changes. There are many motives, fewer alibis, and tensions mount.

Tess and Tuesday moved to Key West, away from family and friends, to explore their new relationship, and a life-style they’d never imagined. Life couldn’t be better for two young women in love, working hard to get by, as long as they’re happy with a steady diet of boxed mac ‘n’ cheese.

Nathan fled Michigan to put horrific events firmly in the past, confident he can immediately make a living as a musician in Key West. Breaking into the local music scene and finding work turns out to be more challenging than he anticipated.

Their paths cross at a locals’ watering hole, and the ensuing relationships will change their lives forever.

How sure can they be that one of their own little trio isn’t capable of the very horrific act that has them looking over their shoulders, trusting no one?

Will they discover who the killer is, or will one or more of their bodies be the next discovery?

 

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Friday night…

Hidden eyes inspected the three houses that lined the opposite side of the street.  The buildings were authentic examples of the Bahamian architecture that typified early Key West construction, with wraparound porches, second stories sporting spacious white-railed balconies, and outdoor wooden stairways snaking their way in a generous, leisurely manner.

He couldn’t have been less interested in the history or cultural significance of the structures.  What drew him here lay within.

Heavy clouds hid any hint of the myriad stars usually visible this time of night.  Both sides of the cobblestone road were cast in deep shadows, the stark solitude broken only by a single street lamp at each end of the short block.

Shuffling sounds to the right signaled the approach of a solitary jogger, his path hugging the far curb.  He was an eccentric sight to behold, even by Key West standards.  The white strands of his long, unkempt hair and scraggly beard stood out against his pitch-black skin.  Tall, thin to the point of emaciation, he wore baggy, dark-colored, ragged shorts, but his running shoes and t-shirt were bright white, either brand new or remarkably clean.

As he ran, his right arm constantly gestured, hand tracing patterns in the air.  The left was thrust forward, clutching a rusty old majorette’s baton.  The sound of his wavering chanting carried before him, as if announcing his arrival.  His head bobbed and wove, and it was impossible to make out the words.

The owner of the furtive eyes faded deeper into the concealing foliage.  Since the runner’s attention appeared to be focused on watching his footing on the treacherous cobblestones, there was little likelihood of being seen.  But why take any chance?

As the garish apparition passed, his left arm shot straight out, baton pointing directly at the spy.  He didn’t pause and the arm returned to its normal position as he continued down the street, turning right at the corner.

Then he was gone.

The watcher exhaled heavily.  There was no way he could have been seen, he was sure of it, but that had been…eerie.  He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of the picture of the jogger, focusing once more upon his goal across the street.

A single light glowed behind curtains on the first floor of the center house.  It was significantly larger than the corner buildings flanking it.

A final inspection showed no other late-night stragglers.  It only took a moment to cross the street and silently move to the gate of the wooden privacy fence that connected the middle house to the one on its right.  A quick test found the latch unsecured, and he slipped inside, pulling the sturdy door shut behind him.

Inside, a stone path wound through a maze of palm trees, overgrown bushes, potted plants, and fragile-looking trellises entwined with vines.  Ahead, the bluish glow of a single underwater light revealed the location of a large swimming pool and the hot tub beyond it.  A few dim landscaping lanterns provided just enough illumination to see the idyllic refuge was surrounded not only by the three houses facing the street, but four more as well.  Those were smaller, two on either side of the pool.  The far end of the complex had a thick stand of orchid trees, densely clustered bamboo, and other tropical foliage that, combined with the tall fence, gave the haven a comforting sense of privacy.

That aura was shattered by a high-pitched laugh and a splash.  The pool went dark and a voice called out from one of the houses to the left.

“Hey, behave down there.  I plan on using that hot tub in the morning.”

The ensuing laughter faded in the distance as the intruder made a quick retreat through the gate, which closed and latched without a sound.  The street was still deserted, and it was only a few steps to the entrance of the largest house.  Despite the aged look of the porch, the boards didn’t squeak or groan in warning of his stealthy crossing.

Neither did the doorknob as it turned, nor the door as it slowly swung open.

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1 comment - What do you think?
Posted by Matthew Peters - April 7, 2015 at 3:53 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , , , ,

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