Earlier this week, I was asked by another author that I have great respect for, Rosalind James, to participate in a "blog roll". Now most of you who know me, know that I was never big into blogging. In fact, my 12 year old actually had to tell me what a blog was, initially.
Rosalind, like me, started her "writing career" later in life, I won't say how late, but it was just a
couple years ago, after a career in publishing and marketing. Also like me, she decided to write a book pretty much on a whim, and to her surprise,
found writing immediately consuming her life. Six weeks after starting
her first book, she finished it and quit her job to write full-time.
Rosalind writes bestselling Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense
stories about rugby, New Zealand, the United States, reality shows,
industrial espionage, and quite a few other things.
You can see her
books on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Rosalind-James/e/B0094AB0UQ/.
Her author website is: http://www.rosalindjames.com
Her blog post, where she answered these questions is: http://www.rosalindjames.com/my-writing-process-blog-roll/
What this "blog roll" is supposed to do is show others how and why I do what I do, by answering the same questions that Rosalind answered in her blog and what other writers I know will answer on theirs, which I'll post a link to on here once they do. It should be interesting. Well, here goes.
1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
I just published a prequel to my three book Jesse McDermitt series at the end of May. A friend and fellow author told me once that the secret to his success was to always keep writing. "Write, publish, repeat," he told me. Well, I'm the kind of guy that always tries to build a better mousetrap, so I added one word to that mantra. Write. Publish. Promote. Repeat. When Fallen Out (the prequel) launched on 5/30, I spent the next 4 days, working up to 16 hours a day, promoting it and my other three books. Fallen Out made the Amazon Top 5000 Best Sellers List in two days and #1 in Sea Adventures on the 3rd day. On the 5th day, I set it aside and opened a new file. Step one was location. My other books are set in south Florida, the Keys, Cozumel, Mexico and Cuba. Since I'd ventured south and west, it was time to hoist the sails and set an easterly course. The Bahamas. I'm now 4 chapters and 17,000 words into my fifth book, a 100,000 word novel titled Fallen Coconut. The setting is the Florida Keys and the northern Bahamas. Elbow Cay in the Abacos, to be precise. The book will revolve around the search for Spanish treasure lost 440 years ago and of course will involve fast boats, beautiful tropical scenery, bad guys with guns, plot twists, and probably one or two beautiful women in bikinis.
2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
Firstly, I write action/adventure. But, my books are quite a bit more adventure than action. I've received some bad reviews because there wasn't enough action in them and I just take that in stride. Yeah, there's action. An occasional bar room brawl, gun fight, even explosions, but mostly I try to convey the essence of life in the tropics. The REAL tropics, not the tourist traps. Have you ever been to the Florida Keys, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, or the Bahamas? Did you know the bartender that served you a "Hurricane" or "Bahama Mama", the charter boat deck hand that kept your line baited and cleaned your catch and the taxi driver that took you back to your hotel actually have a life outside the bar, the boat, and the taxi, once you leave paradise? Seriously, they have friends, family, cars that break down and everything else like you have back home. It's that essence of actually living and working in paradise that I try to get across to my readers. Also, there's a bond between my characters. Some of them are bound by the laid back island lifestyle, but many are bound by something stronger. The bond between men (and women) who have served our country. You see, most of my "island bum" characters are prior military and our bond is stronger than the bond between many siblings. Throw in a little levity and romance and you have the REAL life in the tropics.
3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I WRITE?
I met a friend the other day that I hadn't seen in a couple of years. I was talking to another friend who asked about my books, and my old friend, having overhead, said, "You wrote a book?" When I told him that I was currently writing my 5th novel, he said, "Let me guess. They're about a Marine, or a charter boat Captain, or the Keys, right?" As Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain once said, "Write what you know." I'm an avid reader and go through at least 3 or 4 novels a month. It's really easy to pick out the authors that haven't "walked the walk". An author living in Kansas, who has never seen the ocean, would have a really hard time describing the pull of an undertow. But, if I had to survive a blizzard, that's the guy I'd want to turn to. I've lived next to the sea most of my life, rode on her surface, surfed her waves and dove to her depths, both for enjoyment and to earn a living. I've worked as a deckhand on a freighter, a divemaster on a charter boat and pulled fish from the water to sell at a local market. I know how Mother Ocean looks, feels and smells at night. I can actually feel the pull of the tide. I write about these things, because I haven't the slightest idea how to hunker down in a blizzard. Write what you know.
3. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
This is a tough question, because I really have no idea. Seriously, I
don't have the first clue how my books will end when I start writing. Nor do I have the
slightest inkling what the next chapter, nor even the next paragraph
will be about. Like my readers, I'm anxious to get to the end to find
out what happens. I've always been a story teller. In the Marine Corps
they're called "sea stories". Kind of like the old tall tales about Paul
Bunyan and Babe, the blue ox, but with a decidedly nautical theme, a
good "sea story" gets better and better with the retelling. As with all
my books, I first pick a destination I think my readers might be
interested in. Over the years, I've actually worked in many of the
places I describe in my books and most of them are considered exciting
tourist locations. To me at the time, they were just where the next job
was. Once the destination is decided, I work on developing a story line
and characters to take the reader there. Viola, a sea story.
5. AND ANOTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?
In just about every other aspect of my life, I'm very organized. Okay, except the garage, it's a mess. Oh, and my closet, but I'm working on those. If you were to ask me how many copies of any of my books were sold on any particular day, I can not only tell you, but I can tell you what the price was on that particular day, how many were digital and how many were physical, and whether it was trending upward or downward. Organization doesn't work in my writing life, though. I'm constantly having to go back to a previous book to find out what color someone's eyes are, or what kind of boat they had. I'm working on this, too. Out of necessity. Going into my 5th book, I sometimes can't even remember what book something was mentioned in. I plan nothing in my writing, I just let the story take me where it goes. It's sometimes frustrating when other authors tell me about the plot outline they just finished for a book they plan to write ten years from now. The 3rd book in the series. Not the series they're currently writing. Not the series after the one they're writing either. Seriously? I'm pushing 60, there's just no way I can plan things out like that.
PASSING THE TORCH, OR WHO'S NEXT?
I've met some really cool people through my writing. Readers who tell me I caused them to openly weep, while in a tree stand, hunting deer. People who said I nailed the relationship between two Navy SEALS, or Recon Marines. I've also met some wonderful authors who have been quite successful and more than happy to pass on the knowledge they'd acquired. Writers who took me back to a 16th century galleon, sailing the trade route to the West Indies, or brought back memories of the Florida Keys in the carefree 1970's. Here are some some authors that I initially was a fan of and now I call friend. They are going to be answering these same questions.
Meet Randy Mixter.
Randy lives in Pasadena, Maryland, with his wife Veronica and
their five cats. He writes in a variety of genres including Fantasy,
Action/Adventure, Romance, Mysteries, and Suspense Thrillers. He
currently has eleven novels and three short stories available, and has
just completed writing his novella of love and redemption, The Road To
Randy's Blog where he will answer the same questions I just did.
His book "Sarah of the Moon" takes the reader back to the summer of love, in 1967's Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.