Randall's Ramblings

Dangerous Alliance Now Available

My second novel, Dangerous Alliance, has been released by Solstice Publishing.

Dangerous Alliance-001United Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.

Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound, but inaction emboldens Al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.

Bedlam Bravo team leader Colonel (Ret.) Trevor Franklin leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but at what cost?

Dangerous Alliance is available in Kindle and paperback through Amazon.

Kindle:

Amazon.com https://amzn.to/2Dop28e
Amazon.co.uk https://amzn.to/2PcXcCe
Amazon.ca https://amzn.to/2QjPWkj
Amazon.com.au https://amzn.to/2QlrpeG

Paperback:

Amazon.com https://amzn.to/2Oso8Zx

Amazon.co.uk https://amzn.to/2qyZFrD

Amazon. ca https://amzn.to/2D77SuI

 © Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author Brad Carl

This week, I’d like to introduce you to author Brad Carl. He’s a former radio personality who still earns part of his living by doing voice-over work. He grew up in the Midwest and was influenced at an early age by the Hardy Boys book series. Despite a passion for reading and writing, Brad found found being forced to read textbooks and write papers in high school and college was more work than fun.

714gLDIfMOL._US230_This turn-off would lead him away from writing for a long time. However, a few years ago, the creative bug bit Brad hard and he resumed writing. Many of the manuscripts are still on a shelf or being worked on, including some short stories, a web series, and a sitcom pilot.

What can you expect from Brad’s books? You’ll find a quick pace that provides just enough detail to allow the reader to paint their own picture. You’ll also be entertained by expressive dialogue that brings the characters to life, helping the story breathe with believability.

Let’s learn a bit more about Brad.

514o6Q1E56LSo, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Such a loaded question!  My first book series was actually a serial, collectively titled Grey Areas – The Saga. I have also written a one-off novel, Craft Beer Burning, that many people think is a non-fiction book about craft beer, but it’s not. It’s much more entertaining than that, though I might be biased.

I also enjoy writing stories and have released 2 collections. The first is titled 5 Dead or Alive and the most recent one (just released in August) is titled 6 in the Styx.

I’ve dabbled in non-fiction, too. Since I’m a huge music fan, I wrote 50 Songs From the 70s & 80s That Still Hold Up. I also put together (what I believe to be) the ultimate business quotes collection titled 260 Best Inspirational Business Quotes.

51fXJueqruLI’ve also always had an artsy side, which often conflicts with the entertainer in me. The compromise is that the entertainer gets to write stories and books while the artsy-fartsy guy writes poetry and songs. The poetry and songs (I’m also somewhat of a musician) haven’t really seen the light of day yet. The entertainer in me wants to release this material while the artsy guy believes no one cares. 

We’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I’m very excited about my current project that will be an ongoing series (not a serial) with the same characters, etc. It takes place in small town Iowa (just like Grey Areas) and follows two main characters: A female sheriff’s deputy and a man who has just moved back to town after having left twenty years ago. I plan to use many of the same elements from Grey Areas – psychological suspense, drama, and some romance – while also diving more deeply into the mystery aspect of writing. Right now I expect each book will probably have a new “mystery” or case, along with the ongoing issues with the recurring characters.

How much research do you do? That’s a great question. I never feel like I do much research and yet, I clearly do. Most often I do it as I write. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of writing something and I’ll realize, I don’t know this well enough – I need to get more information. And I’ll stop what I’m doing and look things up. Sometimes I’ll think I know what I’m talking about but down the road my editor will see something and make a note that says, “You might want to verify this, I don’t think it’s correct.” 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I used to write from the hip but have been working lately on planning things out more ahead of time. Sometimes it’s difficult to plan until you actually start to write because that’s when your plot and characters become REAL. On the other hand, the writing comes out a lot faster when you have things planned. You just have to be ready to make some adjustments on the fly, and that’s okay.

51QAaN8dKJL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? Both. I do a bunch of proofreading and editing on my own, but I also have an editor who does a superb job of making me shine before anyone else sees my work. I think it’s very important, even as an indie, to use a professional editor. I’ve heard a lot of self-publishers say, “I can’t afford it.” Sure, I get it. If your goal is to publish a book and have your friends and family tell you how wonderful it is – cool. But you’re not allowed to question why your book doesn’t have a broader scope of sales. 

Self-publishing gets a bad rap because anybody can do it and as a result, there’s a lot of unedited, crummy books on Amazon right now. It can be difficult for readers to separate the good stuff from the crap until it’s too late and they’ve spent their money. 

Bad, unedited books have turned “self-publishing” into a bad word the same way used car salesmen turned “salesman” into a bad word. People tend to not trust either.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I truly do. To tag on to my previous answer, you can’t expect to be taken seriously if your cover looks amateurish. The first impression people get of you as a writer is your book cover(s). That’s pretty important, I think.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) As I’ve already mentioned, I self-publish. I like to refer to it as “indie” because of the aforementioned stigma attached to “self-published.” 

Why do I do everything myself? I could go on for days about this, and I don’t want to sound like I’m slamming people who seek out “being published.” The simple answer is I’m a control freak when it comes to my stuff. These books are like my children and I couldn’t possibly trust someone else to nurture and raise them with the care and attention to detail that I do. Seriously, I cannot fathom it. Like I said, I could go on forever about this so I’ll stop myself here.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? If you want more time to write more books, being published traditionally (I expect) is a big help and will free up more of your time to write. Publishers are a dime a dozen though, so you have to be careful with what you’re getting yourself into. 

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Man oh man. Well, there are two different types of reviews. First, there’s the kind that are done by book bloggers. For example, you wrote one here for Grey Areas – The Saga. This type of review is great exposure and generally positive. Then there are reviews by the readers – primarily on Amazon. Most of them are great. But there are some people out there who quite honestly don’t know have a clue what they’re doing and need to have their Internet privileges revoked. 

91BJ+Jsc9rL._AC_UL872_QL65_Do you think that giving books away free works and why? To an extent I think it does. I know many writers struggle with this. Some of them take a lifetime to finish writing the Great American Novel and can’t fathom giving it away for free. But if your plan is to write several books and make some regular income, giving away the first book in your series is a great way to hook potential readers into your characters and storyline at no cost to them. It shows that you have faith in your work. Of course, this is a terrible idea that will definitely backfire if your first book is awful.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Write. Keep writing. Don’t stop, moron. 

I wish I had known then what I know now. Two or three decades ago I didn’t believe it would ever be possible for me to making a living writing. I had no idea I would be able to control my own destiny like I can now. The Internet changed everything. If I had written more back then, I’d have a lot more material to work with now than I do. Ooops.

What do your fans mean to you? I wouldn’t have the desire to keep doing this if it wasn’t for the rabid readers and fans. Writing is not like a disease to me. It’s the enthusiasm from the readers that drives me. If people hadn’t wanted to know more about Henry Fields, I’m not sure I would’ve finished Grey Areas.

Where is your favorite place to write? On my back. Truman Capote said, “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” I can relate. I’m not really on my back when I write, but I try to always have my feet up in a recliner or on an ottoman. Otherwise I’m not comfortable and can’t relax.

Besides writing books and producing voice work, Brad is also a successful businessman in the textile and packaging industry. He currently resides in Kansas City, MO with his wife, Kristi, and daughter, Presley. The family also has a dog (Ali).

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author Nancy Wood

This week I’d like to introduce you to author Nancy Wood. She has plenty of experiencing writing non-fiction works and has now turned her expertise to fiction. Let’s learn more about her:

nancy_wood_author_photo

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) I was a technical writer for 35 years, and retired in 2016. During my working life, I wrote all kind of things, including software ‘how-to’ manuals, guides for software engineers, programming manuals, help bubbles, marketing pamphlets, and newsletters. I started writing fiction as an antidote to technical jargon! I’ve written a ton of short stories (mostly unpublished), two attempts at literary novels (also unpublished), and two psychological thrillers, both published. They’re the first two books in a trilogy (I’m working on the third), titled Due Date and The Stork.

The books are set in the Santa Cruz, California, area, where I live. They feature surrogate mom and now aspiring PI, Shelby McDougall. In Due Date, surrogate mother Shelby falls victim to a scam involving the intended parents. The Stork, book 2, picks up Shelby’s life five and one-half years after Due Date. Shelby is apprenticing as a PI and is falling in love. But her life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a late night phone call–her birth son has gone missing.

Here’s the book blurb for Due Date: due date-001

Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins.

Twenty-three year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she’s signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments.

But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agenda—one that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins. As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

the stork-001And here’s the book blurb for The Stork:

It’s been five and a half years, and Shelby McDougall is finally on track. Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her brother, and is in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as intern to local PI Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up.

Her past is behind her. Almost.

A late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin. One of the twins she put up for adoption has been kidnapped, snatched from his home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses.

After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep. They eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts, qualifying them for either Ripley’s Believe It or Not or a sideshow act in the circus.

Against her better judgment, knowing that every cop in the state of California is doing their best to find this boy, Shelby agrees to help. By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late. As Shelby fights for her life and that of the kidnapped boy, she learns the shocking truth about her babies.

And she also discovers her own truth, a lesson she has to learn over and over: her best instincts might have unexpected, damaging, consequences.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I’m working on the third book in the Shelby McDougall series. It picks up Shelby’s story, about six years after The Stork. It will be the final book in the series, and I plan to resolve all the dangling questions. Not only from Shelby’s point of view, but also from the point of view of her nemesis, Dr. Helen Brannon.

Speaking of point of view, I’m contemplating writing this book from a third person point of view. Due Date and The Stork are first person. I don’t know if it would be too jarring to my readers to frame it from a different point of view. But I’m thinking about it!

What drew you to write in this genre? I went to a commercial fiction workshop 11 years ago now, and brought an idea for a literary novel, which turned out to be a dud. I was in a small group brainstorm session, and came up with the idea of using the themes in that novel in a mystery. At the time, the mystery/thriller/suspense genre was not on my radar at all. Now, I love it, and have become a certified addict.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Very part time at this point. I’m retired now. When I was working, I had a strict writing schedule. I’d get up and write for an hour before I headed into work. I thought I’d spend lots of time writing in retirement, but I’ve been travelling a lot. And I find I love to spend my days outdoors as much as possible.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. Always on the computer!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I have to have the plot fully figured out and each chapter outlined before I start writing. I also have to work out the clues and character motivations and settings before I start. Otherwise, I get lost.

What is the hardest thing about writing? For me, the hardest thing is the discipline of sitting down every day. I find that continuity is critical.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? The rewrites. I found out that the plot didn’t fit together and I had to go back through the entire manuscript fixing it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Those days when everything fits together. The time I have to sit and the computer and write. The plot. The characters. The words!

Which writers inspire you? Dennis Lehane for suspense; Laura Lippman for love of Baltimore (where I grew up) as well as her great character Tess Monaghan; Jodie Picoult for everything; Chris Bohjalian for the inevitable startling and crazy twists; Jocye Carol Oates if I’m looking for something very, very dark; C.J. Box and Nevada Barr for settings; and David Sedaris if I’m looking for laugh-out-loud funny.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Ebooks. I travel a lot and use the Overdrive app from my library to borrow books.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I do a lot of my own proofreading and editing, since I have a lot of experience in that area. After a few rounds on my own, I work with an editor for a complete manuscript review. Does the plot fit together? Do the characters’ motivations make sense? Does the structure of the manuscript work? Does the book start in the right place? My editor’s name is Mary Carroll Moore. She offers online classes and coaching as well as manuscript reviews. You can find her at: marycarrollmoore.com

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? Yes, absolutely. With the millions of books on Amazon, I think a cover that helps your book stand out is essential.

What do your fans mean to you? I’m astonished and humbled by my readers. I’m so grateful when someone picks up one of my books!

Where can readers find you? Here are a few places:

Website and blog: Nancy Wood Books

Email: nancywoodbooks@gmail.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-W.-Wood/e/B0088DJMAK/

Stay tuned for another author interview next time!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Writing Announcements

Coming Soon – Dangerous Alliance

Watch out for the release of my next political thriller, Dangerous Alliance.

DA-3D-coverUnited Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.

Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound, but inaction emboldens Al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.

Bedlam Bravo team leader Colonel Trevor Franklin (Ret.) leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but at what cost?

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Michael Kent

This week I’d like to introduce you to Canadian author Michael Kent. He’s a retired international management consultant. Contrary to his technical writing, his fiction always has a tinge of humor and a special twist to the tale. A native of Montreal, he is fully bilingual, normally in the same sentence.

His years as a private pilot, avid reading, and extensive traveling, have built up a storehouse of plots and stories to be shared with the world. Michael is also the regional rep Quebec and Maritimes for Crime Writers of Canada. Let’s learn more about him.

Kent_23juin-201619294What are your ambitions for your writing career? Turn my writing into a serious business.

Which writers inspire you? Mostly mystery writers such as -Robert B. Parker- Robert Crais- Jefferson Parker – even Janet Evanovich with her bigger than life characters.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Many short stories, some that have won prizes or contests. I’m now working on a hard-boiled detective series. Each novel is stand alone, but we progress in the detective’s life, friendships , loves and adventures. (the 5th novel is coming out next month) I’m also planning a more esoteric novel on near death experiences.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Homicide detective Lieutenant Beaudry is a bit of a rebel and somewhat politically incorrect, but he has by far, the top record for most cases solved. (Mainly because he forgot a few pages from the police procedure manual.)

What are you currently working on and what is it about? Bank Shot is about the murder of an ex-bank robber that had stashed the loot from the gang’s last job. He managed not to get caught and to change his life around, but when his accomplices got out of prison; they catch up with hi.

We also get more insights on the hard-ass Lieutenant Beaudry and the impact the murder of his mother in a botched bank robbery had on his life and character.

bank-pWhat drew you to write in this genre? Years of reading well-written mystery and thriller novels gave me the framework for my own series.

How much research do you do? I used to do a lot of research before starting a new novel, most of which never made it into the story. I now make a rough outline, write the tale and research only where needed to back up the story.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Three years ago when I retired from my business consulting practice I went full time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try and write or edit every day. I’m a morning person and my creativity is best early in the day.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. I use a Word template for the size of novel that I publish. I no longer type in a standard manuscript format.

Where do the your ideas come from? An interesting question, for which I unfortunately have no answer. Ideas pop into my head from I don’t know where.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I do a rough outline of the plot with preliminary chapter headings in Excel. I add to the base outline and track pages and the novel’s progress as the story unfolds.

What is the hardest thing about writing? I generally know the beginning and the end of the story before I start writing. The hard spot is the swamp and alligators between them.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? I do a book per year. My target is one complete edited novel every nine months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? Take a break, write something else, read a book, and come back to your story a few days later.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. I don’t read, I devour books. I’m always discovering new and interesting writers.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? The feel and smell of old fashioned paper novels cannot be replaced.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? If you are serious about writing you need a professional editor.

new-novelsDo you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? No, I edit a few prior chapters to get back into the story then go on to write new pages. Except for the first pages, I never start out writing.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I don’t like to admit it, but yes. This is another area where I may use professional assistance.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? Never start a novel with a dream sequence, nor introduce names of a bunch of characters without some description of them.

What is your favorite quote? Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about Creating Yourself.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Neither, it’s an incurable disease.

What do your fans mean to you? They are my main inspiration to continue writing.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? For a short story develop as I go. For a series I create the character’s basic CV. Likes, dislikes, character traits and idiosyncrasies and add to this as I write.

Where is your favorite place to write? I have a dedicated office where I write. I mostly edit on paper outside of the office, in a restaurant, coffee shop or library.

Check out Michael’s other books on Amazon: Blood Tail, Folded Dreams, Twice Dead, and Tainted Evidence.

Watch for another author interview next time. Until then, hope you have a great week!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Forrest Steele

This week I’d like to introduce you to self-published author Forrest Steele. Retired from investment banking, Forrest is now doing what he loves–writing.

Let’s learn more about him.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? I started creative writing late in life. I’d love to know I learned enough to create stories that people enjoy, and–dare I say it–stories that sell.

Which writers inspire you? Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Robert B. Parker, Barry Hannah, Walter Mosley, many others.

IMG_0648-1So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, either via internet or consulting with people, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) A few dozen short stories, and a regular column newspaper column on advice for small businesses. The novel I just finished, Never Again, Seriously, started as a short story and grew.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? He’s slick in dealing with people and so observant and intuitive you could say he’s psychic.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? A murder mystery set in orange grove and cattle country in south central Florida.

 What drew you to write in this genre? It’s the type of thing I read.

How much research do you do? I try not to roam too from what I know. There are several spots where I need research, either thru the internet or consulting with people who know more.

Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales? No collaboration.

When did you decide to become a writer? Began testing my abilities eight years ago.

Do you write full-time or part-time? 20-30 hrs/week. You tell me!

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? Every day, in the hours before and after dinner.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I dictate when Dragon is working and revise by typing on the computer.

Where do the your ideas come from? Daily observation of people and situations.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I start the ball rolling with no outline, and then make an outline, which is constantly revised and updated.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Getting stymied or blocked when I can’t see how to move the story forward. Going back to outlib=ne process always helps.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It was so awful I had to rewrite the whole thing.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Descriptions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? I’ve only finished one. My guess is about a year.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? See hardest thing above.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. See above. Right now it’s James Lee Burke, Randy Wayne White, and Tim Dorsey.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Traditional printed.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I paid for a line edit even though I had combed it carefully. Wow! I’ll always do that now.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? I’m constantly editing as I go.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? It’s the most important thing after networking.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) Indie for the first, will seek traditional for the next.

519gRqvmUL_002What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? That’s too big a question for me to deal with here. 

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Haven’t yet. Not sure what they do I can’t other than their contacts, which they oversell. My mind is open a crack, though.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Read up on the wealth of info out there, and be prepared to publicize as hard as you wrote!

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Just starting. If it’s not half, I’ll be surprised.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? It’s all data, so in that sense none is bad. Anything that gets out there and affects sales, not good!

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? My testing tells me that Facebook targeted ads are cheap and powerful.
Not interested in other social media. Personal selling and publicity, including email seems best to me.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? No press release yet. I can’t imagine it would drive sales.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Definitely a gift for me.  Anyone who finds it a curse probably should quit.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Don’t know how to answer.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing?  What would you do differently the next time? The plot was a mess, but I had to live through the process of fixing it to learn.

What do your fans mean to you? When I get one, I’ll let you know. I think they must be lifeblood.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day? Can’t sleep any more and my back hurts.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? Wizard of Oz. That started a lifelong reading journey.

What motivated you to become an indie author? Challenge of creating.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Yes.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? Both. 

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. I get a basic idea, but can’t develop it without starting to write it.

Where is your favorite place to write? My computer, at home.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? Just to repeat myself, your best marketing resource is yourself. Don’t spend money on crutches; just get up and walk! See it as networking.

Forrest currently resides in Lake Placid, Florida. Hope Hurricane Michael stayed away! Stay tuned for another author interview next time.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author B. Douglas Slack

This week I’d like to introduce you to author B. Douglas Slack. He’s a self-published author began writing in grade school, encouraged my his mother who was a journalist. A U.S. Navy veteran, he retired as a First Class Petty Officer and served in Vietnam. Stationed mostly in the Far East, he spent three years in Japan which provided the spark for his first novel, You Only Love Twice.

He has been married for over fifty-four years. He’s led an exciting life, and has many skills out of the ordinary, such as: Alaskan dog team driving, Steam and diesel train driving and flying. He has called Ohio home for the last twenty-five years.

Let’s find out more about his writing journey.

51sZrPn-u0L

What are your ambitions for your writing career? I started my first novel about two years ago as a romantic short story. I kept adding and adding until it became a four-chapter story. Then I joined a writing site and published the chapters. I was encouraged to continue and make it a novel. In October of 2017, I published it under the title of You Only Love Twice. I had reached my first goal. My next goal is to write a trilogy. The first book is published as The Long Trek Home.

Which writers inspire you? In my very early years, before I became a teen, I picked up a Science Fiction book by Ray Bradbury and loved it. From then until my early twenties, I read mostly SF by the giants such as Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein, Ursala K Le Guin, Larry Niven, and many more. On May 25, 1985 I met and talked with Isaac Asimov for over half an hour following a talk he gave about robotics. I’ve also met Hal Clement at a SF Convention.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) My first published book is titled You Only Love Twice. I then published The Long Trek Home. Over the years, I’ve written over fifty short stories, poems, and articles and published them on various writing sites for peer reviews.

51af8UBp5rLGive us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? The MC of You Only Love Twice is an interesting character as he is an American working in Tokyo, Japan of the 1980s. He speaks Japanese well and, on the train home from work meets a Japanese girl named Hiroko. He breaks traditions by speaking to her and ultimately inviting her to tea that afternoon. He is a master salesman for his firm as well as quite likeable, with many friends.

The MC in The Long Trek Home, which is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, has an innate ability to do the right thing whatever the circumstances might be. Not given a choice, he takes part in a killing in self-defense and flees west. He is an inventive person with many handy skills which help him and the woman he assists in escaping a slavery ring. Together, they beat the odds and ‘go home.’

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I am now working on the sequel to The Long Trek Home, which is the further saga of the two main characters in the first book. It is in the rough draft version and I hope to get it into shape by the end of the year.

What drew you to write in this genre? I really haven’t chosen a genre. The first book was a romantic adventure, yet the second was a much more gritty and down-to-earth fight for survival on a post-apocalyptic world.

How much research do you do? I research quite a bit for details necessary to bring a story alive. In some cases, I draw from personal experiences and memories. As they say, “Write what you know about.”

When did you decide to become a writer? When I was eleven, my mother gave me a blank journal. At the time, she was finishing a college degree in Journalism and the subject fascinated me. I began writing that very evening and haven’t really stopped yet—and I’m seventy-six now.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Being retired, I am able to write pretty much whenever I want to. I guess you would call this full-time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try to write or at least do some editing every day. I spend on the average of twenty hours a week writing.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No. I write until I reach a spot where I can take it up again the next session.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I started longhand, moved to a typewriter, self-teaching myself to touch-type, then switched to a computer in the early seventies.

Where do the your ideas come from? Some from real life, some from my head, and some from my heart. I carry a little notepad in my hip pocket (a habit learned while in the Navy) and jot down every idea as it happens.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? My first book detailed the life of the main character and his wife as they lived it. I had a basic start and let it flow naturally to a conclusion. The second book was sketched out—on graph paper, actually—into a timeline for various events. Then I stitched the scenes together.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Editing. It is a horrible thing to spend an hour producing, say, 2,500 words and watch over half of it disappear when editing. Editing and grammar-checking take most of my time.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It went very well, actually. The timeline I created worked by forcing me to pace the adventure and add flesh to the story structure. The hardest thing I faced was making the tension palpable throughout most of it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? The typing itself. I type at over 120 words-per-minute so I can rap out a thousand words in no time at all. I’ve worn out three keyboards over the last two years.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? The first one took about two and a half years. The second just seven months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? Definitely. Whenever it strikes, I move on to my second passion: my virtual train program. I spend time building routes and running trains on them. It keep my interest long enough to flush ideas from the cobwebs.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. I read voraciously. I always have a book with me in waiting rooms, at lunch, before I go to sleep, and most other times. Lately, I’ve been re-reading my military thrillers by W.E.B. Griffin, H. Jay Riker, and Tom Clancy. Woven between them is more lighthearted works by Stuart Woods and John Sandford.

Long Trek HomeFor your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I wear trifocals, so reading an eBook on a tiny screen just isn’t for me. I much prefer paperbacks or hardbound books. My library as around four hundred books at present.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proofread and edit them myself with the aid of software purchased for that task. Currently, I’m using ProWritingAid which I consider the best so far.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes. You Only Love Twice went through three major editing sessions and a cooling-off period of two months before I did a final format and published it.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? Absolutely. Most people will look at a book cover first, so that’s the initial contact you have with a potential reader. If the cover is uninteresting, they won’t go any further.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) I tried traditional by submitting to established publishers. I quit at fifty rejections and self-published through Kindle Publishing.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I like the freedom of self-publishing. By that, I mean I can fix typos or errors or touch up dialogue, upload a new file, and the next person who orders the book will get the changes. Amazon’s ‘publish-on-demand’ allows this.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I would if I could afford one.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Get out there and talk about it. Self-publishing means you have to do all the work.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Not enough. I know I should do more, but can’t find the time.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I take every review to heart. A bad review can point out something you never considered such as a plot hole, or a bad reference, or even worse, a wrong attribution.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? It isn’t strictly about marketing, but I gave several copies of my first book to the local library. They put it on a ‘local author’ shelf and began lending it. I was standing in front of the checkout desk one afternoon and a woman came up to me and asked if I was B. Douglas Slack. When I replied I was, she thrust a piece of paper at me and asked for my autograph. My very first. She’d recognized me from my photo on the back of the book.

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? I deal poorly with social media. Facebook is about the only one I am on with any regularity. I don’t tweet, or any of the other texting services.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? I advised a budding writer on a writing site not to overstep the boundary between what he knew about and what he didn’t. If you don’t know what you’re writing about, it will come off a fake and uninteresting. Write what you know.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I created an account there, but somehow it ended up getting closed. I never could find out why.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? I tell all my neighbors when my books are published. They almost always order one and have me sign it.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? Can’t think of any. I’m sure I did, though.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work? Mixed feelings about trailers. They’re more for films than books. Any trailer I can come up with usually ends up on the back of the book as a teaser.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? I give away books occasionally, mostly to libraries in the area. They love to put them on shelves set aside for local authors.

How do you relax? I’ve been working with computers for over fifty years. To relax, I spend time creating web sites, programming, or building a computer. It takes most of your mind to do this and that eases writer’s block handily.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? Write it down.

What is your favorite quote? “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” TANSTAAFL, popularized by Robert Heinlein in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, a book I’ve read and reread many times.

What is your favorite movie and why? Tough choice. Most any movie with Cary Grant. I grew up watching his cool take on life. He was a master at comedy (“Father Goose” comes to mind) as well as drama (“Mr. Lucky”).

What advice would you give to your younger self? Very little, as I would be unlikely to take it anyhow. I left college and enlisted in the Navy before Vietnam heated up, yet spent five tours in the war zone. I might tell myself to ease up on the volunteering. I wouldn’t trade the twenty years I spent in the service for anything. I speak a smattering of ten or twelve languages, I’ve been on all continents, I’ve lived in many foreign countries, and loved every minute of it. One daughter was born in the Philippines, the other in Japan, so they have a itchy foot as well.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I met one famous person already, President John Kennedy. He stopped at the Naval facility at Lajes AB, Azores on his way to visit the Pope. He spent an hour in the Operations building with a dozen of my watchstanders while waiting for a classified message to arrive over our circuits. A very personable man, and the first president I was able to vote for.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Keep trying. No matter what, keep trying.

Where do you see publishing going in the future? I fear it is going become electronic and print publications will fall by the wayside.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Yes.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Sticking to some form of plot. I tend to go wandering off the path and delving into side-issues. When I catch myself doing it, I have to delete chunks of typing and start over.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Long Trek Home? What would you do differently the next time? Of particular challenge was projecting the current socio-political climate into a post-apocalyptic world. How would a person cope when oil suddenly stopped flowing following a nuclear event in the Middle East? How would anyone deal with oceans rising from the striking of the sun by an anti-matter moon and causing a huge solar flare lasting for years? Coastlines changed, economy’s crashed, civil disturbances become a daily occurrence, and mob rule become the norm.

What do your fans mean to you? Everything. At my age, I love them to pieces.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? On my tenth birthday, my mother handed me The Rolling Stones, a science fiction book by Robert Heinlein which was first serialized in Boy’s Life (A Boy Scout magazine). I loved it and checked out several more by him. When I ran out of Heinlein, I moved on to the other greats like Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Keith Laumer, Hal Clements, and the rest of classical SF authors.

What motivated you to become an indie author? Fifty rejection notices will do a wonderful job on your ego and motivate the heck out of you to publish on your own.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? I wrote one called “I was a Dispatcher for Ten Minutes” when I was twelve. It told a story of a young railroad telegrapher who had to make a decision to let a train pass his station in the absence of the regular dispatcher. I received a “B” on it.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? I try to create worksheets on my major characters. Birthdates, general descriptions, likes, dislikes, habits (good or otherwise), and other useful information. I refer to these sheets all the time.

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. I flip through the journals I’ve kept through my life starting at age eleven when I received my first blank journal from my mother. I get ideas all the time from having my memory jogged by an event in them. At other times, things seem to pop into my head and are captured on the pad I keep in my back pocket.

Where is your favorite place to write? In my computer room.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? I’m not an aggressive marketer of my own works. I talk it up every chance I get, give away books to neighbors, and generally make it known I’ve written a book, but I don’t hit social media hard. I’m a hobby writer who has found publishing to be fun. I’m seventy-six now and hope to keep publishing until I’m not around any more.

That’s all for this week. Check out Mr. Slack’s work when you have a chance. Join me again next week for another author interview!

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