Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 11, 2018

Today’s the one hundredth anniversary of the armistice signifying the end of World War One. Called the ‘war to end all wars’ we are reminded of the brave sacrifices of men and women to protect our freedom, regardless of our backgrounds. Give a moment of silence for those who served when called upon.

After a series of author interviews, I’m back with my regular ramblings. As always, we’ll check out those associated with the writing world who celebrate birthdays today (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Bernardo Tasso, Italian poet; George Savile, 1st marquis of Halifax/author (Character of a Trimmer); Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist (Crime and Punishment, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American author/editor (Story of a Bad Boy); Alceu Amoroso Lima, Brazilian author; F. Van Wyck Mason, American author; Daisy Bates, publisher/head (Arkansas NAACP); Eladio Rusconi, writer/publisher/businessman; [Dallas] Mack/McCord Reynolds, American sci-fi author (Earth War); Kalle Päätalo, Finnish novelist; Kurt Vonnegut Jr, American author (Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan); Piet van der Sanden, Dutch journalist and politician (CDA); Carlos Fuentes, author (The Death of Artemio Cruz); H M Enzensberger, writer; Callum Alexander MacDonald, historian; Mircea Dinescu, Romanian poet; Mary Gaitskill, American novelist; and Lee Battersby, Australian author.

Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

News About My Published Work

Dangerous Alliance was released this week by Solstice Publishing. There have already been two five-star reviews! Here’s the first one: “A Nail-Biting Thriller! This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last.

Krzak masterfully weaves together four subplots all aiming toward a powerful ending. In the background, throughout the book, is a poignant and moving story of a man separated from his family. The man constantly faces a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma. Plenty of crisp action scenes pull you from one chapter to the next. Krzak knows how to turn a literary phrase. One of my favorites was: “Evelyn pulled the wig from her head, years draining away.”

You follow the groups of determined characters, some of whom are quite creepy, as they take care of business with some horrifying results. I will never be a spoiler, but the author pulls it all together toward the end, as if all the characters have gotten together for a meeting.

If you like an engaging read with a lot of imaginative stories tied together, this is definitely a book for you. Highly recommended.”

The second one is from a repeat reader! “Great Read! After reading the first book of the series, The Kurdish Connection, I couldn’t miss the second instalment of the series. The Bedlam boys are back with a new adventure. There’s more action, more tension in this novel, but the same smooth writing with lots of details about life in North Korea. Strongly recommend it.

Hopefully,  others will soon join these two.

My Work in Progress

During the time I focused on author interviews, I continued working on Carnage in Singapore. The drafts of thirty-one chapters are finished thus far and are posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. So far, there’s been 433 chapter reviews, all of which help to improve my writing and tweak the story. Here’s the synopsis:

1539534550Terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah have flourished in recent years with new recruits joining them and ISIS-affiliates at an alarming rate. Blended operations by various Asian countries have forced the groups to work together to identify a new operational base.

They seek an island nation to call home, one where they can plot against countries who oppose their ideals. They found a target, a small nation-state, perfect for their needs: The Republic of Singapore.

Before anyone can respond, the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia are kidnapped from their residences in Singapore. Right index fingers of each victim are sent as a warning. Any attempt to recover the ambassadors will result in the removal of additional body parts.

Bedlam Charlie team leader, Evelyn Evinrude, leads the group to rescue the ambassadors and capture the local leaders of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. Can Bedlam succeed or will events escalate, resulting in more deaths?

In addition to working on Carnage in Singapore, I’ve also started on the finale of the four-book series, Ultimate Escalation. Just the first chapter is completed, and ten reviewers have provided their comments. Here’s the synopsis:

1539535798Punjabi militants seek to distance themselves from Indian and Pakistani dominance and interference. With the dissolution of British India in 1947, families were ripped apart as the Punjabi region was split between the two countries. Limited attacks within each country caused further persecution and heartache.

The militants have no idea how to achieve their desires–until the appearance of Vladimir Aleksandr Nikolai, a disgraced Spetnaz colonel. He offers the militants a means to spark a conflict between the two nuclear powers.

Russian subs sold on the black market and manned by Iranian and Russian sailors will surface off the coasts of the two countries and destroy Karachi and Mumbai. Propaganda machines will levy accusations against each country, leading to escalation of hostilities, pushing the countries to the brink of nuclear war.

The Bedlam organization fields their three teams to counter the violence and seek to restore calm before it’s too late. Will they be successful or will South Asia become a smoking ruin?

Perhaps next week I’ll include a snippet from one of these and also tell you about a couple of other stories I’m working on.

Books I’m Reading

I just finished an exciting story last night, The Patmos Enigma: An Archaeological Thriller by Ken Fry. I’ll provide my comments next time, But I will mention I can’t wait to grab another of his books!

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. While I spent hours reading through various links doing research and preparing for various posts, I didn’t have time to find anything to include here.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

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.

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