I tell you all I did to finish NaNoWriMo and my new paranormal romance
I did it! I finished the first draft of The Stranger, previously called The Extra (although the second is by no means now final). As you can see in the graph below, I began writing seriously on the 5th of November for NaNoWriMo, and it took me exactly one month and a day (excluding the first 3K words I wrote earlier in the year). The final word count stood at 63.861. This number will be going up as I will go through the next few edits, and I’m hoping to reach the 70K again.
So, how did I do it? Let me tell you.
Did I start writing the story from scratch? No, I didn’t. I finished Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy in March 2018, and just after that, I wrote the first few chapters of this book. I didn’t know it was going to be another trilogy, but the more I thought about it, the more ideas I had. I didn’t have time to continue writing, however, as I decided to do major cover edits on the Sucker Trilogy books. This took me a couple of months (next time I’ll let someone else do it!). I then needed to work on promoting the trilogy in October. In between the scenes, so to speak, I jotted down notes on my cell phone. I used the Samsung Notes app every time an idea for the book popped into my head. I have two pages of them (the Note app has a limit on how much you can put on each page). Some notes I have used, some I haven’t, but you never know when they’re coming in handy, so I’m not deleting them. I still have two books to write :).
My book plays in Alaska. Why? Because I needed a place where paranormal creatures could live in relative obscurity. Werewolves need to be able to run unseen. Vampires need to be able to drink blood without being caught. And Alaska is a pretty remote place. One day, I Googled the map for Alaska and found this lake called Deadman Lake. I had found the perfect spot for my story!
The Real Research
Now I knew where my novel was going to take place, I tried to read up and watch documentaries on everything Alaska. What were the daylight hours? How cold did it get in winter? What animals live there? What is it like for humans to live there? A mistake I make when writing my first Suckers Trilogy book was that that I assumed what country towns in Maine looked like. I had no clue. I actually made a similar mistake in The Stranger. A typical house in the UK has an upstairs, and I assumed this to be the case in Alaska as well (like in Maine). Only halfway did I realize this was so wrong, and I had to rewrite certain passages.
One of the ‘in-depth’ researches I did was when I contacted another writer who had lived in the area. We had an online, live conversation, and she could give me a lot of answers to questions I had. I also bought Nora Roberts’s book Northern Lights, a story which also plays in Alaska. I haven’t finished it, but it very much regurgitated all the things I had learned so far about living in Alaska. I was on the right track!
The Actual Writing
As mentioned earlier, I only began writing on the fifth day of November, and by the time it was the fifteenth of the month, I only had written for six days and hadn’t even passed the 20K word mark. I was running behind big time and needed to up my game. Competitive as I am, I set all other things aside and began treating my writing as a full-time job. This did it the world of good. I limited my time on social media. I even turned off the notifications on my phone. Sorry, I lie. This was actually a remnant from my filming session with Aberdeenshire Film Productions late October, and I simply forgot to turn it back on again. I don’t think I will, to be honest, as I don’t want to be a slave to Facebook and Twitter anymore.
Writing At Last
What was it like to actually write after half a year? Awesome! Even though I had been thinking about this story for months, I refused myself to think up an ending already, literally going LALALALALA in my head when my mind even hinted going into certain directions. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made with Book 3 in the Suckers Trilogy and spoil the fun. I sort of had an idea of what the moral of the story was (oh yes, it has one), but I kept an open mind on how to put it in there. I preferred to let my characters take me on their journey, leaving all directions open (north, east, south, and west). And during all of my writing, I have faced many, many directions. Sometimes I turned into directions that I immediately backtracked and erased. Most times, however, I just took some time looking around at the crossroads and chose the option that was the most interesting.
This story is different in that it definitely complies to being a romance. The Suckers Trilogy is rather dark whereas I kept this story reasonably light. I’m not sure yet if the next two stories are going to stay this light, but romance lovers are certainly not going to be disappointed with this one. There’s (only) one semi-descriptive love scene in it, and I had to change the age of the main character from 17 to 18 to keep everybody happy. No, this doesn’t make it erotica. I had to look up what the difference was to make sure for you, but this story still holds if you take out the loving, so no erotica.
At one point, something happened that I didn’t anticipate at all. All of a sudden, this character appeared, out of the blue, knocking me off my feet, throwing a spanner in the works, so to say. But it made it so much more fun, giving the story so much more depth. It’s going to be one of the red lines that run through all three of the stories. I just love it when things like this happen!
Having an Editor
The first draft is done, and I’ve actually already finished the first edit. I love this story so much that I couldn’t stop working on it! 😀 I’m trying to make this production the most professional one I’ve done so far, so it’s going to be interesting how much time it will take. Being more professional also means I have an editor booked in January (which is pretty organized for me). I have the next two weeks to polish the story and get it ready for the editor. She already told me I’ve got a habit of head-hopping (a remnant trait from my first-person point of view writing of the Suckers Trilogy) before I started writing this book, but I’ve caught myself still doing it. So quite a few scenes need to be re-written.
I’m hoping I can find some alpha/beta-readers in my email list (but if you’re not, I’ll still welcome you!). I already have one person who has put his hand up for being a beta-reader (yay!). As I write ‘on the fly’ or ‘pantsing’ as they say, my story has no pre-checked structure. I go with the flow and hence some sections may be too slow, too fast, or perhaps not necessary at all. I need someone to tell me this to make the story better.
My editor will do a light edit. She already told me my writing isn’t bad at all (You have a firm handle on voice, style, grammar, and punctuation), so it will mostly be a vocabulary and possibly a little grammar improvement here and there, plus help with my POV and chapter changes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed she won’t find any plot holes. As I’ve changed directions so many times in the story, I hope I can correct any wrong assumptions I had at the beginning of the story. Once I’ve gone through her notes and made my changes in February, she’ll proofread the work, and it can go to beta-readers to be read in March-April. So, if you have some time in your schedule and would like a free book, put your hand up! (and email me: email@example.com)
In the meantime, I need to organize a cover. At first, I was thinking about a cartoon-style cover, but now I’ve written the story, I don’t think that’s the way to go. It’s not that funny. I still don’t have any idea for a cover, so I’m open to any suggestions (cover or cover designer). Let me know if you know of a great designer.
All-in-all, I can’t wait to get this story on the market and to my readers. I just know they’re going to love it as much as I do!
Meet author Sandra Bass Joines and learn about how her new release ‘Shoe in the Road’ came about.
Sandra Bass Joines is a sweet lady I met through One Stop Fiction. Sandra has written a book on spine surgery recovery and a romantic suspense novel called Tears of Sand. Earlier this year, she has published her second romantic suspense novel called Shoe in the Road. It’s a story about a woman finding a shoe in the road. Oh, and about finding true love after leaving a cheating husband and a suspenseful road trip. Let’s talk to Sandra to find out more about this strangely titled novel!
Sandra Bass Joines
Thank you so much for affording me the opportunity to share a little about my latest novel SHOE IN THE ROAD and how it came about.
It’s a strange title. Can you tell us how you got it?
Titles come to my mind before stories do. The title for this last novel, for instance, popped into my mind one day when I saw a shoe in the middle of the road. I thought that would be an interesting name for a book – shoe in the road. I had no idea what it would be about or anything regarding characters. I sat at my computer one day and typed Shoe in the Road on the first page. I then closed my eyes and listened (I try to listen, not think). At this point, the idea presented itself to have a shoe influence the lives of the heroine and hero.
So, after you had the title, how did you come up with the story?
The story pretty much wrote itself. Well, I have to give some credit to the heroine’s conversations with her deceased grandmother’s ashes (don’t worry, they were in an urn) and an ornery cat who invited himself into the story. I’m a southern girl who can spin quite a yarn. Therefore, it seemed logical that a girl running from a controlling, cheating husband would certainly be more interesting escaping in a 1960 Coupe de Ville convertible named Gussie than in a traditional vehicle.
Why did you use this setting for your novel?
A showdown between Boston Calbreth, the heroine, and her husband made sense to happen in a place I have heard scary stories about all my life. Tales of people going into Tate’s Hell Swamp and never coming out have been passed down from one generation to the next.
How long did you take to write the story?
It took six weeks to write the novel and a year for revising and editing. I have more stories in my head than I have time to write. I plan to put as many as possible on paper.
How did you experience the launch of your book?
I did a launch using a four-day free promotion and a four-day ninety-nine cent promotion before raising the book to full price. So far, everything has been running smoothly. Each time I make a scheduled change, I am afraid of doing it incorrectly or concerned that Amazon or one of the promotion companies will not come through. I am enjoying the ride, and am grateful to all the wonderful people who are supporting me.
Sorry everybody, as Sandra’s book was launched in February 2018, the discounts no longer apply. I’m sure Sandra will bring the price down now and again, though 🙂 .
Sandra Bass Joines’s books are available on Amazon.
You can follow her via the following social media:
Meet the Author… Craig Wainwright. He’s the author of The Last Titan, the first book in a great series, and he’s taken the first step in realizing his dream.
I met Craig Wainwright on Twitter (where I meet most of the authors I interview). He was talking about a big reveal and ramped the suspension up enough to peak my interest. I was dying to find out what he was talking about! His first book, The Lost Titan, launched yesterday, and Craig’s going to reveal his big secret in this interview, so quickly continue reading…
I’m normally a reserved, middle of the road, kind of guy, whose always been geeky about Sci-Fi. When I got married, I warned Diane, my long suffering wife, that there would be three people in our relationship: me, her and the Doctor (big Doctor Who fan you see). Nowadays, the Doctor and Diane often pop out and leave me busily tapping away on the keyboard, only to return before I miss them – it’s a time travelling thing, I’ve been told…
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Terrance Dicks, by a long way. To date he is still the longest serving Doctor Who script editor there’s been (1969 – 1974), wrote some cracking stories for the TV series and then topped that by writing the lion’s share of the Doctor Who range of Target books. What a guy.
Of course, being a cheeky Doctor Who fan when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to invite him round to my house when meeting him at a signing. To my amazement he agreed. At the time I was a member of the local Doctor Who group and so I quickly organised a sponsored “Stay Awake” event for the visit. Terrance got the proceedings going, with an auction and stayed for a couple of hours afterwards to chat with us.
Then I asked the typical fan question: ‘What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?’ His answer was the obvious one, but it stuck in my mind because he’s such a lovely bloke. ‘Just write it,’ he said. Succinct, concise and to the point. The answer hit home.
We raised £600 for Cancer Research that day, and am proud of the fact.
What made you want to become a writer?
An urge to tell stories about characters which have lived with me since I was 10. I’ve needed to do this for a number of years and have had various failed attempts since 1989 to get the job done. The thought of dying before I’d managed to let everyone know about these wonderful characters and the situations they find themselves in, mortified me. Morbid I know, but it’s true, and since I’m not getting any younger, I knew I had to do it sooner rather than later to have any chance of getting book 5 written.
That moment when a character says something and you think that they have suddenly just come alive during that moment. It’s a magical time. Then, as the book takes its course, these people go on their journey. You see them grow and, by the end of the book, after all the twists and turns in the plot, they come out different people – as anyone would. With my style of writing, with the plot driving things forward and not the characters, this development does add an extra dynamic which can enhance the story.
On the flip side, I hate writing the first draft. I find the whole process painful and really hard work. But after that hurt, building on the original draft, the process suddenly becomes enjoyable because it then becomes a time of discovery. This happened with Book 1, were several things happened in the first five chapters and by the tenth I thought, ‘There have to be some consequences here’, and so the court scene was born. One of my beta readers loved that scene, as I do, because the hero shows he’s not just a physically powerful individual, but also a clever one as well. A fact which will become more important as the series progresses.
What genre do you consider your book(s) to be? Have you considered writing in another genre?
That’s an interesting question because this series is multi genre: Book 1, The Last Titan, is Sci-Fi with a strong super hero facet to it, bringing in the fantastical element. Because I plan to the nth degree, I know Book 2, The Last Titan: Titan’s Quest, will leave Sci-Fi behind and become purely Fantasy, with large dollops of horror towards the end. Book 3 leans more towards Horror with Fantasy elements embedded within it. I see this as being a very dark book and only hope I can pull it off as Horror isn’t my genre of choice. Strangely, and having just said that, these books cry out for the darker writing to add to the growing menace. Book 4 will return to straight Fantasy again. That’s just series 1. Series 2 will be different again in structure and feel, but that’s a long way off…
Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
These books are about ten races of people who need one another to survive, for them racial tension never existed until one man brought with him intolerance and hate. With his coming terrible acts of violence followed. When such a scenario enters a society which seems utopian, we would often find a very fertile breeding ground for the evil to grow.
The motto, I suppose. is that we need to spot this type of person when they get into power and deal with them quickly. We don’t want another Hitler and we definitely don’t want another world war.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
That’s easy. This was for Book 2, which I’m writing now, and it’s the melting point of Quartz. It starts melting at around 600c, if you’re interested.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The overall process of research for the book has been mainly passive, since I’m quite well read when it comes to the history and literature of Ancient Greece. I spent a few nights researching the Chernobyl accident and got an understanding of how it happened and how the reactor was designed. It turned out in the end most of that research wasn’t used in the book. I also did quite a bit of research on Mauy Thai, since the hero is a an expert in the martial art. I checked out a few websites and bought a couple of VHS (yes VHS) tapes and sat down and watched them, taking a few notes.
Regarding much lighter research I spent a bit of time finding the right stars which might have Hellas orbiting them. They ended up being in Ursa Major and they’re a true binary system called Gliese 412. These stars are red dwarfs and one is much smaller than the other. However, every now and again this smaller star becomes much brighter than its neighbour, which fits beatifully with one of the background Mythos I’ve already written. I won’t say any more because I plan to bring the Mythos out as anthologies eventually. Maybe even bringing the first one out before The Last Titan 2.
Loads of stuff. The bulk of it centred around a narrator and two children who would ask him questions about the action in the preceding chapters. These guys discussed pertinent points which I felt needed further explanation but couldn’t fitted in the story any other way. This allowed me to bring in several background stories (one of which tied in with the end of the book beautifully). When I later looked at these sections, I had to admit they had become somewhat redundant as I grasped the mechanics of writing a novel and the need to save space added further reasons to chop these sections anyway.
Interestingly, there was also an alternative chapter 8 which introduced the character of Jimmy (a tramp) and it described Omicron (the female villain) conducting horrific experiments on his two friends. This was made redundant when Jimmy informs a character later on what he saw, and rather than taking fifteen pages to get this across it took three paragraphs to explain it instead. The chapter also had a very different version of Jimmy; he was a more crotchety character. I prefer the character he’s evolved into because he’s a much more approachable, comical character – to the betterment of the whole series I think.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I like to leave little markers which might hint at what’s be coming: a little comment here, somebody saying something there. That sort of thing.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think some writers maybe tend to accept their lot and don’t try to push for the best they deserve. My advice is to be ambitious and adventurous in your plans, be cheeky and ask the questions to get what you want when it comes to publishing and publicity. You don’t get unless you ask in this world, unfortunately.
From the above you can tell that I’m very ambitious, maybe more than my talent deserves, but I’ve known what I want from the start and I’ve pushed to get it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, then other times it does and I’ve ended up doing business with some wonderful people who wanted me to succeed because they saw my drive and determination. Chris Grant (the voice over artist for the ad) put in an email to me: “So, go get’em Giant Killer.” A comment which sums up what I’m trying to achieve with this first book – break through and get established quickly. I dearly want these characters to be remembered and loved even. If I fail, well, at least I tried. If I succeed, then book 8 would most definitely be on the cards
The only other thing I can say is love your subject matter and let it draw you in. Some writers are mechanical in their execution of prose. Get involved with it. I’ve had a love affair with my characters since I was a kid and they’re so clear in my head now, they’ve become like old friends. If you are detached from the work, it’ll reflect in it and your characters will end up being distant at best and uninteresting at worst. Get into their heads, understand them, and the characters will write themselves.
So… what’s your big reveal?
As mentioned earlier, I have a book trailer/ad. Apart from promoting the book via an interview and review in Starburst (a British Science Fiction Magazine), followed by the ad in SFX (a British Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine) and Starburst for three months and a small ad on Doctor Who Online, it is also going to be… on TV! The book trailer will be shown on Sky1 and Syfy from August the 23rd for two weeks!
Wow! That is so awesome! I bet every writer is incredibly jealous now. I certainly am. You do dream big, and I applaud you for it! I wish you all the best with your launch, Craig, and hope your book sales sky-rocket!
Craig Wainwright’s book is available NOW on Amazon, and you can watch the trailer on his website. You can contact Craig through Twitter.
Killing A Vampire – Update. Watch my updated trailer for the last book in the Suckers trilogy!
I finally had some time to update the trailer for Killing A Vampire! Well, I had to as it was in my pre-order form for the Darker Side of Fiction book fair, and I had to hand the form in 😀 . I still haven’t finalized the form as I need to figure out what the price for the Prequel and my Short Shockers books are. For this, I need to upload them on IngramSpark first. So I’m working my ass off to get this done! In the meantime, enjoy the trailer again!
Blog Tour – Mark L. Fowler; Check out my review of Mark’s new book in the Tyler & Mills crime series, Blue Murder!
Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! Mark is promoting his new book, Blue Murder, in the Tyler & Mills crime series. I’ve interviewed Mark again recently, and you can read the interview here.
Mark has been kind enough to give me a copy of Blue Murder in advance. Here’s my review:
I received an advanced copy of Mark Fowler’s second DCI Tyler and DS Mills murder mystery novel, Blue Murder and this review is given freely. Not having read the first novel, Red Is The Colour, I found myself easily engrossed in Blue Murder (trying to finish the book during early hours of the night), enjoying the developing professional relationship between brooding DCI Jim Tyler and the sarcastically witty DS Danny Mills, and getting to know more about Tyler’s dark past.
Blue Murder sees an ex-band member, Adam, murdered. His girlfriend, Daisy, points the finger to her sister, Janine, who stole her ex-boyfriend and lead singer of the band, Johnny, from her. But there’s also Billy, the two young men’s school buddy, who had stepped in to take Adam’s place when he left the band not too long ago. Then there’s the band’s song, ‘All Colours are Blue,’ that’s becoming a hit, and money is being made. Now everybody is claiming to have written the song. Tyler and Mills have their hands full trying to figure out who’s lying about what, which is made difficult with lead singer Johnny missing since Adam’s murder.
Blue Murder is a great psychological thriller about love, fortune, and fame. Tactical interrogations are prime in this well-told story. Red herrings are strewn left, right, and center to keep you guessing. Pick up this book and you’re in for a great, keeping-you-on-your-toes detective novel!
Meet the Author… Mark L. Fowler, author of the brand new novel Blue Murder, book 2 in the Tyler and Mills series.
Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! As mentioned in my interview with him last March, I’ve known Mark L. Fowler for a few years now. We both joined One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group (on Facebook) when it only had a few members. Of course I said ‘yes!’ when Mark asked me to be a beta reader for his new book, Blue Murder, book 2 of the Tyler and Mills series. As I’m part of his blog tour, I’d love to give him another boost 🙂 .
Mark L. Fowler
Mark L. Fowler has five published novels under his belt, and he recently contributed one of his many short stories to the Dark Minds charity collection. Mark’s most recent book, Blue Murder, is the second in a police detective series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills. The first book to feature the detectives, Red Is The Colour, was published by Bloodhound Books last year and shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. Mark is also the author of The Man Upstairs, featuring hard-boiled detective Frank Miller, and Silver, a psychological thriller. His first book, Coffin Maker, continues to defy any attempts to categorize it. All of his books can be read as stand-alone works.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Peter James. I met him at the Winchester Annual Writers’ conference many years ago. I attended his workshop and was lucky enough to have a one: one session with him, during which he looked over the opening chapter of my first novel and gave me some sound advice.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I love setting off on new adventures, not always certain of where they will take me. I love exploring new characters, watching them develop as I work on them, and finding what makes them tick.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
For me, being a writer is absolutely a gift. Yes, it is hard work, yes there are frustrations getting your books out there, but the creative part of the job, the putting pen to paper, developing storylines, creating settings, sharpening dialogue – I just love the whole business of writing.
Do you outline or just write?
A little of both. I like to have a strong idea of my main characters, and a vivid sense of place, of where the story is happening, before I begin writing. I will usually have a clear idea of the primary situation or conflict that will need to be resolved before the story can reach its ending. But detailed plotting is not something that I like to do before beginning the writing. If I had too much plot before I started the book, I would feel constrained and my characters would not have sufficient room to develop. I know writers who plot intricately before they begin a book, leaving little or nothing to chance, while others just go for it. It is whatever works for the individual writer. I’m somewhere in between.
What is your favorite genre? Why?
I read more crime fiction than any other genre, and my writing has increasingly moved that way too. I have always loved detective stories, both on the page and on screen. Most of my published work so far has been in the detective genre, one way or another, most clearly in my Tyler and Mills books and The Man Upstairs. Whilst Silver is more a psychological thriller than a classic detective novel, the main character, the writer and journalist Nick Slater, is effectively playing the role of detective, trying to get to the heart of a baffling and intriguing mystery.
What genre do you consider your latest book and have you considered writing in another genre?
Blue Murder, like its predecessor Red Is The Colour, is a British police detective novel. But the books are also historic crime, set in 2002-2003. Part of my reason for doing this was my interest in a style of policing that is a little less dependent on technology, and more about detectives going door to door, face to face. The action takes place on the streets of a North Staffordshire city, not in forensic laboratories and on computer screens. I have also written in other genres, Coffin Maker being a good example. It’s just that no-one, including the author, can quite nail the elusive genre that can define it! A lot of people really love that about the book.
What is your book about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
The sub-title of Blue Murder is: Fame. Fortune. Murder. And here lies the first clue to what the book is about. Johnny and the Swamp Seeds are a local band on the cusp of success when the singer Johnny Richards goes missing. Then the body of a young man is found in the local canal. The detectives, DCI Tyler and DS Danny Mills, not only find themselves trying to solve a baffling mystery, but at the same time their efforts appear to be doing nothing more than catapulting a now singer-less band to fame and fortune. What a lot of people most enjoyed about Red Is The Colour was the relationship, strained at times, between Tyler and Mills, and in Blue Murder I have worked hard to develop these two characters further. So the book is as much about the detectives, and also about the city in which they live and work, as it is about finding out what happened to Johnny Richards.
What gave you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for Blue Murder? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.
I suppose that the inspiration for Blue Murder initially came from being in a band many years ago, though I have been careful to write a work of fiction and not an autobiography. I had the initial idea about the singer going missing at the point at which he and his band were about to break into the big time. Then I began to ask questions about why this might happen, and who might stand to gain. But once I had the basic ingredients, I didn’t want to plot any further. I wanted my detectives to do the work for me. I wanted Tyler and Mills, rather than the author, to dig into the mystery and find the truth. As far as possible, I handed the investigation over to them. After all – they are the detectives!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I wouldn’t say ‘hijack’ exactly. While giving the story over to my detectives, in one sense, I still retain the last word. This is why I like to have some idea of the shape of the story from the outset, and why theme is important – to stop the book from veering off course. Some plot developments would seem inappropriate to the story I want to tell, and this comes through experience. The more I write about Tyler and Mills, for example, the more I know when I’m on track. If characters start to act in bizarre ways that give no meaning to the story and for no good reason – if their behaviour ceases to support the theme of the book – then I know I’m getting off-track and need to pull things back. For me this would be one of the dangers of just writing a book completely from scratch, without first getting to know my characters a little bit, and where they come from and where they are heading.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have at least half a dozen completed, unpublished novels and quite a number of partially completed books too. In some cases I am simply still not satisfied with the books, and need to return to them afresh to bring them to publication. Others may never see the light of day for one reason or another. In some cases I may have set off writing them too early, without thinking about the characters, the locations and/or the basic plot sufficiently, and then getting into more of a mess than I know how to get out of. It’s all experience though, and I have learned a lot from writing some books that I know may never be read. But these days I would rather set off on my writing adventures with the knowledge that I have enough to get me through to a satisfactory ending. As a writer you never stop learning.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my books has made me think differently about the whole writing process. I am more aware these days of writing for a readership, an audience. It has made me more disciplined in my approach, asking more questions at an earlier stage in the development of an idea, and a lot less self-indulgent. When I began writing short stories, a long time ago, I used to just let my imagination soar. These days I only allow that once I have a solid base beneath. I do the groundwork first and then allow the imagination of my characters to soar. And on good days they always seem to do just that. Bless them.
Thanks again, Mark, for sharing more about your writing with us. I loved reading Blue Murder and can thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for a good crime story to read during the holidays!
For those of you who’d like to know more about Mark L. Fowler, you can follow him via:
Meet the Author… Ian Campbell, author of And the Salesman Came to Town, a satire.
I met Ian under the name of Devin Salesman on Twitter. His book, And the Salesman Came to Town, intrigued me. As my love for Terry Pratchett explains, I love it when stories contain a fair share of humor. Ian let me wait weeks for the image (blame was put on the Zon), but it was worth it! So, without further ado, let me introduce me to Ian Campbell, so you can also have a laugh.
I am a 53-year-old man, who is married with two adult sons – both of whom still live with me! Professionally, I am a high school English teacher. And now that I have put this on paper, I’ve realized just how boring I am. I was born in Toronto, Canada, but when I was still a baby my family moved to Winnipeg, where I learned the meaning of a what cold winter is! When I was young, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities in primary school, and needless to say – I was not what could be considered a model student. Let’s just say I was heavy on the hyper activity! Unfortunately, when I was 12 my mother passed away after a battle with cancer, and when I was 13 my father sent me to a military school in southern Ontario, near Niagara Falls. I spent the next 5 years at the school – consider it a reward for being a perfect child! My father during my time at school moved back to Toronto, so that I wasn’t too far away from family, and after I finished my education, I too stayed in Toronto. I worked for several years then went to York University, where I studied English Literature, and later I received my teaching qualifications from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. During this time, I started my novel And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and available on Amazon! (subtle plug, right?) I also got married, and my lovely wife and I had our aforementioned sons. As my life got busier I got away from writing, sending most of my free time with my sons. We went swimming, biked, watched moves and went to amusement parks and so much more. We were thick as thieves. My sons are still very active, they just don’t take me along anymore! I never thought I would be the 3rd wheel! Honestly they would bring me along too, but now that I’m getting older I’ve developed a bad back and cannot do all the things I used to do. Summers had become boring, and I had an idea – start my book from scratch! The rest is history – exciting NO! No, no – it really isn’t, but I have started my second untitled novel!
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Be yourself and get over yourself! The first draft of my book And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and again the – it’s available on Amazon thing, (yes, it’s plug number 2) was written about 20 years ago. I was trying to be all dark and sardonic, somewhere between Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, two of my favorite authors. Then, while I was editing the first half of the novel, a thought came to me. ‘What kind of self deluded idiot would write this kind of preachy and pretentious bull sh**!’ Let’s just say I knew it needed some revisions. The first draft was in truth complete crap, but I still thought it was overall a good idea, and never really gave up on it. And now you know why it took 20 years! Here is my advice, be yourself and get over yourself – to be an author, and you need to find you own voice! Being self critical, and being able to take criticism from others, will also help enhance your prose.
Who is/are your favorite author(s)? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?
Obviously, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Waugh, then J. R.R. Tolkien, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Johnathan Swift, of course Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Frank Herbert, Shirley Jackson, Eric Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle and J. K. Rowling. I know the last one is an author of kid’s books, but tell me – who doesn’t love Harry! Really, it’s a longer list than this, but in my defence, I’m an old guy so I’ve read a lot of books.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Austin Clark. I don’t think he is that famous, but he has won some major literary awards. I don’t get out much!
What made you want to become a writer?
I love stories: books, movies, TV, plays – and of almost any genre. Although I like satire and fantasy/science fiction the best. At heart, I’m still a child! And, according to my wife, every other part of my anatomy as well.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
Everything! I wrote And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, I guess you’ve gotten the whole Amazon thing by now (plug number 3 – nice huh?) without having any idea of what I was doing. Here’s the thing though, I’m pretty sure that I still have no idea of what I’m doing.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Everything, from the outline to the rough draft, and the revisions and editing. I have to admit that I’m not very good at editing myself as I see what should be there, and in many instances, not what is there. Apparently, neither did the professional editor I hired, he left spelling and grammar mistakes for god…! Anyway, after some complaints from readers, I have put And the Salesman Came to Town, by… (Well, you know the rest by now – plug number 4!) through an online editor – but I digress. Even if I had no way of sharing my writing with others, I would still write. I love every part of it!
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
For me, a gift – absolutely a gift! I can create my own little world, and get a short reprieve from the somewhat messed up real world we live in. I’m a humour/fantasy writer, and all I can hope for is that my audience is having half as much fun reading my writing, as I have had writing it. If that is the case, in my opinion, I’ve done my job as an author!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
This cat right here. We share the same world view.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energize! As I already said I love writing, especially humour. Like my novel And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Didn’t think I’d get one more in did you? Last one, promise!)
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
Oh, very part time. As they say “Don’t give up your day job!” I would be thrilled to be able to write full-time, but at this point, being a somewhat newly self publish author – who has no idea what he is doing as far as publishing goes, I think I’ll have to keep the day job for a while. And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Okay, I lied!).
Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm for writing, Ian. I’m glad to hear you’ve used an editor for your book. Yes, folks, the edited version is online now! I’ve started reading it and am enjoying it very much (although I’m terribly time deprived working on my own books, but I promise I’ll write a review when I’ve finished!).
If you wish you can follow Ian Campbell, aka Devin Salesman, on Twitter.
The devil has come to town – but this time he is the CEO of a multinational corporation. This multinational advertises a soul back guarantee for all potential customers – for their purchase of their very own dream life. A semi-alcoholic priest is anointed as – The Chosen – the one who is destined to fight off the evil, and to stop this latest incarnation of the devil. He is sent unwillingly into the battle between good and evil, and what can only be considered to be an excellently executed marketing campaign. John Murdock, a self described crappy priest and aforementioned semi-alcoholic, wakes one morning to a radio commercial outlining the benefits of buying one’s own dream life for the low – low price of their soul. He sincerely hopes that the commercial is a bad joke made by the radio station, or at least a hangover induced hallucination. But finds out to his dismay that it is all real, and that it is his job to fight the devil incarnate, or more accurately stated – the devil incorporated.