Saturday, April 28, 2012

Author Interview - Peter Hindley and Susan Goodsell

Peter Hindley has written a book about the circumstances surrounding his brother's death.  A story that started as a mere record of events, The Perfect Crime ended up being something much more.  I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Hindley recently, and here's what he had to say.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: Let us start by saying that I am Peter, born in South East England. I left England 5 years ago with the intention of having a quiet life in Southern France; I bought a house just outside a quiet village, walking distance to the bakery for the all important daily bread, which is so much part of French life. It was my intention to shut the gates, to relax and write but events took over and I soon found myself being accepted within the village and the social whirl started.

Sharing, especially a meal with friends and relatives, is of prime importance to the people here, perhaps it is because they are the descendents of the Cathars. So although I arrived here with a very limited French vocabulary, I managed to greet the people politely and correctly in the streets or shops; so it could be said that my new life here started with a simple ‘bonjour’ (perhaps that could be a title for a later book).

As a ‘thank you’ for the welcome I received here I started to give a dance class within the village; I had been a Ballroom and Latin American dancer many years earlier and competed and won many national competitions before qualifying as a teacher; a broken arm with complications and certain pupils caused me to stop that class, nevertheless for my pleasure, I continued working with one couple who compete here in France and Spain and organize dance events; that in turn lead me into serving on the juries of competitions in both these countries. Now you can guess that my life is far from tranquil as I had intended but it is great.

I still managed to complete “The Perfect Crime a story of truth or fantasy” with the help of my niece, Susan Goodsell, and the sequel has been started as the story did not finish within the final pages of the book.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I started writing in 2002; recording the strange events that started around the time of my brother’s death. I knew, as did Susan, his daughter, that we were living a story that needed to be told.

I had loved words and their usage so I set forth to write; this was not something I had done before but the process was fascinating for me. Then the work was transferred to a web site in order to gain public awareness of what can and does go wrong when dealing with matters of the deceased; that piece was added to over time until one day we received information that was to prove the perfect ending for a book. We immediately started the conversion work, to add and edit, ready for publication and were very surprised that we had several offers to publish relatively quickly; in fact everything worked very quickly and within months the book was launched.

Q: What is The Perfect Crime about?

Peter Hindley, Author
A: As I mentioned earlier, I started to write after Alan’s death in March 2002. As I was nearing my 60’s and was the youngest of my generation I had seen many family deaths, I was no stranger to the grim reaper’s works, but strange things were happening regarding Alan’s demise which although I could not pin point all of it at the time, I knew that nothing was normal: People’s reactions and attitudes changed, the normal obligatory formalities were not adhered to, as you will discover as you start the journey with the book. One thing I will mention here is the fact that within the first few days we were given at least 4 different stories of where Alan died within his house and more than a year later we heard of yet another version, what actually happened at the time of death I will not say but that is only one of many anomalies we, and you, will discover: Did Alan die naturally or was he helped in some way? Nothing was quite as it should have been or what it appeared to be; nor is it now. Over time our investigations and discoveries were accurately recorded ultimately developing into a far reaching exposé that even extends into the corridors of Whitehall, the seat of British government, the police and legal system and beyond.

Q: Is this a work of fiction or non-fiction?

We added “a story of truth or fantasy” to the title of the book because we had been asked many times whether the story was fact or fiction when a version appeared on the internet: Certainly readers still ask the same question but normally they know the answer by the end of the book.

Q: Did you have any specific goals when writing the book? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?

Initially we ad no other motive than to record what was happening, little did we know where that would take us or how things would develop; that is probably just as well.  Now we want to make people aware of what can happen, what can go seriously wrong, and does daily in England and we have learned that similar problems are not restricted to the British Isles since publication. New Inheritance Laws need to be installed now to prevent a recurrence, what is in place now is open to abuse by anyone: but although they are fully aware of the sloppy laws, change is something the Ministry of Justice is not interested in implementing until there is sufficient demand from the people; how do we know this; because the aids to the Minister of Justice told Susan just that.

What is interesting for us is the fact that readers take different subjects from the book that relate to their lives; some we had expected but others have been totally unexpected.

Q: How long did it take you to write The Perfect Crime?

A: The writing stared in March 2002 and continued until the middle of 2011 when we were given what was to become the perfect piece of information to form the end of this book: Naturally that was not continual work as we had to await or research each piece of information.

Q: Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?

A: The cover was organised by the publishers and I think they and the artist have done a splendid job; certainly when I first saw it I was shaken, no shocked, it took me several days to appreciate how well the design works.

Editing we did ourselves; the style of writing and format changes as the story twists and turns and we deliberately broke many writing rules in order to ensure everything was clearly understandable.

Q: What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?

A: Communication must be the priority but also the reader’s attention and interest must be held.

Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?

A: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peter.hindley3
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/snakehips99

Q: Do you have any future projects in the works that you'd like to tell us about?

A: As I have mentioned, a sequel to ‘The Perfect Crime…’ has been started but we have also been closely monitoring a case of negligence and injustice in Britain involving a house owner, a European bank, an insurance company, several firms of solicitors (lawyers, if you prefer that term) and other members of the legal trade; perhaps we will include that in the next volume; we will watch developments and wait and see.

Q: What do you think of the changes taking place in the publishing industry? With authors gaining more control over the creation and distribution of their work, what do you think readers stand to gain/lose?

A: On this subject I am no expert but I fear that the quality of work may, and I repeat may, decline; you only have to watch what has happened to television since the growth in the numbers of channels: Having said that it is quite possible that the selection of subjects printed could grow and even State censorship may take a fatal blow: We live in hope.

Q: And just for fun, can you share three random facts about yourself?
  1. I am rapidly approaching retirement age, so could be said to be ‘past my sell by date’.
  2. The best decision I have made was to leave England 5 years ago for a new life in France, even if that life is not the quiet the one I had envisaged.
  3. Each day is now an adventure, a new experience; I never know what is going to happen after I wake up, even if something is planned for that day; it is great.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work with us!  We hope to have you back again when your next book is released!

The Perfect Crime

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Assorted Updates

Been juggling a lot lately in my quest to pay the bills through my own creative endeavors.  My books have provided a nice buffer to my weekly paycheck, but they’re not yet enough to cover the bills.  One day, perhaps.  I’ve also got my photos up for sale at deviantArt, though truth be told, I’ve been way too lazy in getting my CafePress store up and running.  Once I do, however, I’ll have Fourth Dimension merchandise available for purchase!  I’m so excited about that.  I’m gonna get me a mug with Arus on it and put it on my desk at work next to my Initech mug.  Yeaaah.

I’m prepping Episode II of Shades of Gray for publication.  Got some more tweaking to do, but then it will be posted over at http://tfdworlds.blogspot.com for your reading enjoyment.  I’m well into writing Episode III now.  Some interesting developments have taken place as one of my characters has stood up and told me that he’s going to be a far more integral part of the story than I’d originally planned (they tend to do that quite often – I love that).  Keep checking back, bookmark the site, Tweet, Like, Stumble, Digg, etc.

Building Blocks received another 5-Star review at www.barnesandnoble.com. I really have to thank Nook readers, because you guys have shown my work exponentially more love than Kindle readers.  I’m really glad you’re enjoying my writing!  And if you haven’t read Building Blocks yet, check it out – cause now and forever, it is free!

Any interest in a second Retail Ramblings?  I’ve posted a number of brand-new stories to my site since publishing the first volume, but I’m not sure if I’ve got enough to create a whole second ebook.  Still, for the benefit of my readers in England and Australia (you guys make up most of my Retail Ramblings audience!) I may be tinkering with the idea of a second entry into the series.  I may not work retail anymore, but I still see things happen around me every day.  On top of that, who knows?  Maybe I’ll end up in retail again one day and have more stories to share!  Time will tell.

Got some ideas for new books unrelated to any current content.  I still have two other fantasy books I wrote years ago just waiting to be touched up.  In their current state, they aren’t fit for public eyes.  But with a fresh coat of paint and polish, there is some potential for Bill & Ted level excellence there.  Of course, one of them is a book I wrote in 2002 which turned out to share many of the same storyline elements of a certain series about a young wizard and his friends.  Kind of annoyed me once I finally found out, because I was completely unfamiliar with Harry Potter back then.  It wasn’t until Deathly Hallows Part 1 was being released that Laura finally convinced me to sit down and watch the movies.  Not a bad story (though I maintain that Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a pathetic excuse for an end to what could’ve been an epic finale – I’ll have to blog about that), but certain scenes and plot elements are nearly identical to things I wrote in 2002.  Bummer.

Speaking of Laura, she's got a new selection of handmade journals over at Keilantra's Kreations.  If you're unfamiliar with her work, she makes variety of journals completely by hand.  She's got amazing feedback from customers and her store is nearing its 1,100 sale!  Her journals make great gifts, diaries, sign-in books for both weddings and funerals, decorative pieces, and much more.  So check it out HERE!

 
Got some new interviews and samples coming up soon.  If I haven’t replied to your submission yet, don’t worry!  It’s in line with the others to be posted.  Actually, once I finish writing this, I’m going to work on replying to your emails.

Been reading a sample of a Dragon Age book that I might purchase.  Actually, that’s given me an idea for another blog I’m going to have to write sometime regarding double-standards when it comes to the “rules” of writing.  I’ve ranted about the ridiculousness of certain writing rules before, but I’m noticing that a good deal of fiction published by the very same houses that have rejected so many of us is riddled with errors, improper grammar, and sloppy punctuation.  And it’s funny – if I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about those topics for my own writing, I probably wouldn’t care when finding these errors in commercially published books.

Anyway, guess that’s all for now.  Stay tuned for the next author submission, and check out Shades of Gray if you haven’t already.  It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s free.

God bless,
Kevin

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sample Saturday: Tyme And Yon Serpent - MJ Holmes

Back in January of this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing MJ Holmes regarding his book Tyme and Yon Serpent.  This week, Mr. Holmes has been gracious enough to share a piece of that novel with us.  It can be reached by clicking the link below.
Enjoy!  And if you like it, be sure to purchase the book in its entirety!

Sample: Tyme And Yon Serpent (Book 1) - MJ Holmes

Have a great weekend!

God bless,
Kevin

Friday, April 20, 2012

Shower the People

This is for my father.  He was an orthodontic lab technician and worked out of a lab in our basement.  He had his little radio on a lot, and I remember this being one of the songs he loved most.

We miss you, Dad.




God Bless,
Kevin

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Publishing "Deal"

Last year, I was approached by someone claiming to be a representative from a publishing company.  A quick look at his facebook page made me immediately skeptical (his only "Likes" just so happened to be the same as mine, and the publishing company he claimed to represent didn't publish sci-fi/fantasy material) but I played along with it just to see what would happen.  He claimed his company was interested in publishing my Fourth Dimension series and asked if I'd like to know more.  Know more?  Of course.  Reach a deal?  That I wasn't so sure about.

It turned out to be a hoax as expected, but the situation raised some interesting questions.  If I was given the chance to publish my books through a traditional publishing house, would I take that opportunity?  Years ago, the answer would've been a resounding "YES!"  But what about now?

In December of 2007, the first draft of Eye of the Tornado was completed.  I was very happy with the story I'd created and was excited to share it with the world.  I spent the first couple of months of 2008 editing and revising each of the three Fourth Dimension books before sending submissions to various publishers and agents.

I spent the rest of 2008 like so many other writers:  Coming home from work to find various letters and postcards telling me that my work wasn't what they were looking for at that time.

I had been trying to get published for years.  My earliest attempt was back in 2004.  I read through all kinds of different websites and books for advice on the subject.  I looked at other people's sample query letters and read interviews with published authors on how they got into the business.  Everything I found lead me to believe that talented authors with quality products will get published while mediocre authors with less-than-polished work will be rejected.  Seems obvious enough, right?  So, with my books being constantly rejected, I assumed that I needed to hone my craft a bit more.  If the quality of my work improved, then my chances of being published would increase as a result.

But a nagging voice of logic in the back of my head was telling me something different.

Whenever I received a rejection letter, I automatically told myself that it was because my work wasn't good enough.  I didn't pay too much attention to any other possible factors until I decided to go ahead and self-publish in 2010.   When I received my first review - a 5-star review on Key to the Stars - I stopped for a minute and said, "Wait a minute.  Someone likes my writing?"  Over time, more positive feedback started coming in.  I actually had people emailing me asking when I'd be releasing more books.  I was completely blown away.  The self-depreciating mindset instilled in me by the publishing industry's responses had led me to assume that there was no way I'd be able to attract an audience.

They were wrong.

And so was I.

This forced me to look at the other factors relating to publishing rejections, and I realized for the first time that the traditional publishing houses base their publishing selections on many more factors than just quality of work.  And these factors keep many hard-working authors from reaching readers not because their books aren't good enough, but because the publisher doesn't consider them marketable for a variety of reasons. 

For the sake of argument, let's just say that you're a talented author with the potential to be an award-winning best-seller one day.  And you're trying to publish your first novel.

First and foremost, it is important to note that the majority of publishers only release a handful of books each year.  With thousands of manuscript submissions coming in every month, the odds of yours being selected for publication are slim-to-none.  Obviously, a well-written book will have better chances, but there's no way I'm going to believe that out of thousands of manuscript submissions received, the three-to-five books released by a publisher in a given year are the only bookstore-worthy titles.  Even if only twenty of those books were fantastic pieces of work, fifteen talented writers would be sent the same rejection letters that the less-than-polished authors received. 

Then there's subject matter.  In my case, it's no secret that sci-fi and fantasy are crowded genres.  There are a lot of us out here writing tales of swords and sorcery and adventures amongst the stars.  With so many trying to make it, the odds of being chosen for publication automatically drop.  Of those five books the publisher releases, how many will be fantasy books?  One?  Two, perhaps?  Cut another three authors from the list for no other reason than their chosen genre.

Now we're down to two open spots.  And guess what!  One of those spots automatically goes to the publisher's big name author who is releasing a new novel that year.  So now there's only one spot open for you.  Out of all of your genre's submissions that the publishing house received throughout the course of the year, you're all vying for the single open slot.  Of those top twenty hard-working authors, nineteen are about to be sent home because there's only one opening.  Not because their books aren't well-written.  Not because they couldn't attract an audience.  Not because they aren't talented.  There's simply one spot left.

"Wait, what's that?  Snooki wants to put out a book!?  GET EVERY EDITOR WE HAVE ON THAT AND MAKE SURE WE GET THAT OUT TO BOOKSTORES IMMEDIATELY!"

Yep. You just lost your spot to Snooki.

And just like that, you've lost your opportunity to be published based on factors that have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of your book.  The odds are heavily stacked against you - even if you're a previously published author.  You can try to get an agent as many authors do, but when it comes down to it, the obstacles in securing a literary agent are quite similar to those in securing a publishing deal.  Each agent has their own genres they handle, and like publishers, they can only accept so many clients before their workload is full.  And, just like publishers, they'd rather take a Snooki than a Joe Schmoe because - let's face it - Snooki's book provides a better guarantee of a financial return.

Now, with a more complete understanding of how the publishing industry works and how a well-written book isn't all it takes to be selected for publication, I don't feel quite so bad about all of those rejection letters.

On the flip side, self-publishing through ebooks has given millions of authors the opportunity to find their own audiences.  Where publishing houses were once the gatekeepers of the literary world, ebooks have blown those gates wide open, knocking down the barriers between authors and readers.  Now, authors are free to write what they want, how they want, and when they want without having to listen to a publisher tell them which subjects are marketable or which characters are likable.  No longer do authors need to worry about hot topics and market trends.  With ebooks, the creative control is 100% where it belongs: In the hands of the author.

Likewise, self-published ebooks have benefited readers in a variety of ways.  No longer do they have to let publishing houses tell them which books are good, which books are bad, which genres are hot, which trends are old, or anything else about what they should be reading.  Not only that, lower prices and free content are abundant within the indie author scene, a stark contrast to the works released by traditional houses.

With five books published on all major ebook platforms and readers from a number of countries around the world, I find myself in a position I never could've reached through traditional publishing.  I am able to share my art with people around the world.  And the response has been both humbling and heart-warming.

I haven't submitted my work to any traditional publishers since 2008, and as of now, I have no plans to.  Perhaps, one day, if the situation is right and the return is worth the investment, I might consider it.  But right now, I'm going to continue to enjoy the opportunities I've been given with the doors that have been opened to me.

So thanks, Antonio Cohen, but no thanks. Till next we meet...

God bless,
Kevin

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Odd NHL Playoff Moment

We interrupt this usually writer-centric website so that we can bring you one of the more comical moments of my hockey-watching years.

St. Louis Blues Bench Breaks During Playoff Game

Just when I thought I'd seen everything.

Have a good week, everyone.  And for the record, I'm hoping for a Devils/Blues showdown in the finals for the Cup.  Of course, I'm still rooting for my home team!  Let's go Devils!

God bless,
Kevin

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sample Saturday: Gargoyles (Resurrection Trilogy, Book 1) - Alan Nayes


Author Alan Nayes was kind enough to provide a sample of his book to share with all of you.  This snippet comes from Gargoyles, Nayes' first entry in the Resurrection Trilogy.  It's now available for e-readers across the web!  If you enjoy this sample, then be sure to click the links below to download the full novel!  And I'd like to send a special thank you to Mr. Nayes for taking the time to share his work with us!

Gargoyles
Alan Nayes

Prologue

Somewhere near Itzimté Ruins, Guatemala, rainy season

She turned her first trick four months shy of her thirteenth birthday. Patricio had been a small man, only a boy really, being just two years older than she. His father had been a teniente in the security police that patrolled Mexico City, and he’d paid sixty pesos for Gabriella’s services. Gabriella wasn’t her real name then, but it was the name she’d used while plying her trade, and it was how she was currently registered at Las Canas.
Now, three years later, the teenage girl with the truculent almond eyes sat huddled under a gnarled tree limb, seeking refuge from the tropical shower. Her skin glistened moistly from sweat and precipitation, and she could smell her own fear above the pungent odor of the earth.
Gabriella stroked one hand across her gravid abdomen, then quickly climbed from the security and cover of the lush vegetation to resume her flight along the muddy carretera that would eventually lead her to San Andres. Nightfall was fast approaching. She pressed onward, prodding herself another half kilometer, though her feet and thighs cried out for rest. Surrounded by miles of unfettered jungle that comprised the Guatemalan lowland rain forests, she longed for a shortcut. There was none. And carved out of this most intimidating habitat in all of Central America was Las Canas.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Wump. Los helicopteros. The choppers.
Mi bebé!” My baby. Gabriella dashed back under the gloomy cover of the rain-forest canopy. She would rather risk an encounter with el tigre or even Desmodus rotundus, the loathsome bloodsucking vampire bat.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Anything but the choppers. She could never return to Las Canas. Never.
Gabriella clutched desperately at her stomach. It heaved with each laborious breath. She couldn’t maintain this frenetic pace; it was impossible. She forced herself to think through the tears, through the pain. She might still stand a chance if she could thwart their initial assault.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Wump.
Que mierda,” Gabriella cried out.
Her hands protected her eyes as she stumbled farther through the thick underbrush. Thorns ripped at her skin, and vines threatened to ensnare her ankles as if they possessed wills of their own.
She tripped, stumbling forward. Terror gripped her like a giant anaconda. Her breaths catapulted from her convulsing chest in short gasps.
Oh Dios, por favor, she prayed. Please, God. If she could just make it to the Itzimté Ruins before dark.
High above her head, the canopy of epiphytes, vines, and towering ferns gyrated into a living tempest. The powerful downdraft from the Sikorsky’s blades created a whirlwind of flying debris.
Gabriella threw herself on the forest floor, cowering under the onslaught of tangled vegetation.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Wump.
No!” she cried. “No!
With nothing to cling to but remnants of past dreams, Gabriella began to pray. She prayed for herself. She prayed for Las Canas. But mostly she prayed for the bebés.
The men from the plantatión de azúcar were coming.

 Gargoyles (Resurrection Trilogy, Book 1)
Available now at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Need to Create

Picture this, if you will.

A teenage Jim walks into the kitchen one morning carrying a stuffed frog.  He proceeds to dance the frog around while singing a song in a silly voice, pretending that the frog is putting on a show for his mother.  And when he finishes, he looks at his mother and says, "I'm going to dedicate my life to doing this."

What do you think she said?  How did she react?

Now put yourself in that position.  However, change the dancing frog to whatever your passion may be.  Playing guitar, writing books, dancing, acting, painting, wrestling - whatever you enjoy doing.  You enter a room of family and friends and proceed to perform your chosen interest.  For the sake of this example, let's say you've written a short story and you want to read it to them.  When you're finished, you say to them, "I'm going to dedicate my life to doing this."

What do you think they'd say?  How would they react?

Perhaps they'll cheer you on.  Perhaps they'll throw their full support behind your dream.  I've been lucky enough to have some supporters of my own goals.  But from my experience, there may be others who don't have as much faith in you.  There may be skepticism.  Criticism.  Flat-out discouragement.  After all: "It's nearly impossible to break into that field."  And: "You'll have to fight against all the competition out there.  Professional competition."  Or the cliche response: "You'll never make any money doing that."

Or worse yet, as someone close to me once said, "You'll never get published."

How would you react to that?  What would you do?

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Jim's mother says something like that in response to his dancing frog routine.  And Jim listens.  Instead of pursuing a career as a puppeteer, Jim decides to start a business career, and years later, he gets a high-level executive job.  The pay is good.  The benefits are good.  Life is good.  But Jim is miserable.  He's stuck in a corporate suit promoting someone else's product and contributing nothing of his own interests and creations to society.  And worse yet, the world has been deprived of a piece of entertainment history that would've captivated the hearts of children and adults for decades to come.

The world has been deprived of The Muppets.

Now, as a disclaimer, let me just say that I have no idea how Jim Henson first told his parents of his interest in being a puppeteer nor do I know how they reacted.  I used the above scenario as an example to illustrate the potential consequences of allowing naysayers to stop us from pursuing our goal.

I realize the fact that for every one person deemed a commercial success, there are thousands, tens of thousands, and even millions who fail to reach that level. I get that.  I don't expect to be a millionaire author (though I'm not opposed to it!) and I'm not counting on it.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up doing what I love.  It doesn't mean I'm going to abandon all hope and get a job I don't want just because it's a rough road.  I only get to live once, and I'll be damned if I'm going to find myself lying on my deathbed one day going, "What if I'd just tried harder?"

I can tell you this:  I can't imagine a scenario where I'd be lying on my deathbed saying, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office."

But let me make it clear:  If working in the business environment is your thing, more power to you.  If that's what makes you happy, if that's what fulfills your need to contribute something of yourself to the world, and if that's what you truly have a passion for, then pursue that path and never look back.  The things I say about the business world and the "corporate suit" apply to me and only me.  It's not my thing, and I won't be motivated to do something when my heart isn't in it.

So how about the rest of you?  What do you have to contribute to the world that is you and only you?  Do you like to sing?  Tell stories?  Have you come up with an invention?  Do you have a talent for sculpting things out of glass?  Stone?  Do you love a sport?  Are you passionate about government and leadership?

Whatever it is, whatever your dreams, whatever your passions, I urge you:  Do NOT let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing them.  Even with zero support from others, if you feel the overpowering and relentless need to create, go out there and do it.  Everyone must choose their own path in life.  We can't let others dictate our roles in the world or what contributions we can or cannot make to society.  Every piece of the puzzle is important.  Everyone from carpenters to comedians have their place, and each serves a purpose whether it be to put a roof over someone's head or put joy into their heart.  It will be tough; I'm not saying that it won't.  It will require dedication, sacrifice, struggle, heartache, perseverance, and above all else, passion.  But if the need to create is there, the rest will come so long as you don't allow anyone or anything to stand in your way.

If Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird had allowed anyone to dissuade them from self-publishing their comic book (originally a parody of Marvel Comic's The New Mutants), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have never existed.  If NBC told Jerry Seinfeld that a show with no character development or "moral moments" wouldn't succeed, the hit sitcom Seinfeld may have never existed.

If Jim Henson had spent his life working with puppets and was never a commercial success, do you think he'd wish he had gotten the corporate job?  I don't know the answer for sure, but I have to ask myself this: Is it better to fail doing something you love or succeed doing something you hate?

I don't know if I'll ever be a "commercial" success.  But then again, I don't know that I need to be.  Of course, like most writers, I'd love to be able to pay my bills with my writing alone - and I'm going to continue to work toward that goal.  But writing is what makes me happy regardless of whether or not I'm the next J.K. Rowling.  It satisfies that endless need to create, that overflowing fountain of imagination that just cannot be contained within the confines of my own head.  I do this because I love it, because it's fulfilling, and because it's the unique thing that I have to contribute to the world.  My imagination, my emotions, my characters, my stories - they are what I have to give that no one else can.  And that mere fact provides a sense of completion and fulfillment that a corporate suit can never give me.

Maybe the business world works for some people.  If it does, that's great.  But not me.  I'll forever drift amongst the stars within my own imagination, and it's a place I never want to leave.  I may never be a J.K. Rowling or Robert Jordan, and I'm OK with that.  That's not to say that it wouldn't be cool to walk into Toys R' Us and see a section of Fourth Dimension action figures, but as long as I can continue to share my work with you and explore the distant corners of the galaxies in my head, I'll be happy.

After all, I'd rather fail doing something I love than succeed doing something I hate.

Tear down the walls.  Follow your dreams.

"Life's like a movie.  Write your own ending." - Kermit the Frog

God bless,
Kevin

Friday, April 6, 2012

Author Interview - C.M. Keller

Today's interview is with C.M. Keller, author of Screwing Up Time.  Published in July of 2011, Screwing Up Time is a fantasy adventure for young-adults and currently holds a 5 out of 5 star review average at Amazon.com.  I sat down with C.M. Keller to discuss the tale recently, and here's what she had to say.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: My husband and I have four kids, and we live in a 1940s bungalow with a bird, a hamster, and a black Lab named Jezebel. Several years ago, I won the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature, Honorable Mention Award for young adult fiction. And I just found out that Screwing Up Time just made it to the quarterfinal round of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old when I dragged a typewriter into the attic. I fell in love with seeing my words on the page. Of course, the bolt of lightning that stuck next to the attic window while I was writing could have been part of the rush.

Q: What is Screwing Up Time about?

A: Screwing Up Time is about a 17 year old guy named Mark. He’s a slacker content with his life. After all, if he stays out of trouble, he’ll get a car when he graduates. Then, she comes into his life—Miranda with her I-escaped-from-a-Renaissance-Fair clothing. Only, she hasn’t. She has come from the Middle Ages and demands a book of recipes for traveling through the colors of time. If Mark doesn’t find it, she’ll die. To save her, Mark must break into a psych hospital to visit his grandfather who tried to kill him, cross the colors of time, defeat an alchemist, prevent Miranda’s marriage, and keep it hidden from his parents. The sports car is in trouble.

Q: How did you come up with the plot?

A: When Miranda (the time traveler) walked into my mind, I thought she was a ghost. But then, she started telling me her story and I knew I had to write it down.

Q: Tell us about Mark Montgomery.

A: Mark’s not too different from any teenage guy—he doesn’t have any special abilities or talents. And he’s okay with that. His goal is to get through his senior year without too much effort. But once he hears Miranda’s problems, he has to decide whether to pretend she doesn’t exist or risk his life to do what’s right.

Q: What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?

A: Unlike a lot of YA books, Screwing Up Time is written entirely from a guy’s perspective. So many readers have said how refreshing it is to read a novel written in the first person from a male point of view. Guys like seeing their way of looking at the world in the book. And girls love figuring out how guys really see things.

Q: Did you have any specific goals when writing Screwing Up Time? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?

A: Mostly I just wanted to tell an action-packed story. But I wanted to be fair to teenagers. I think they get a lot of bad press. My kids and their friends aren’t the drug-addled, bullies you see in the news. They’re people I like to hang out with, people who make me laugh and have hope for the future. I wanted my characters to be just like them.

Q: How long did it take you to write Screwing Up Time? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?

A: It took a year to write the first draft of Screwing Up Time. In terms of editing, I’d done freelance editing before, so I figured that with the help of some amazing writing friends and literary agents, I’d be able to edit without hiring an editor.

I did have a cover artist. Tara Rimondi is a professional graphic artist (and good friend). She read the book’s blurb, and an hour later she came up with the perfect cover. How can someone do that?!

Q: Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?

A: My family. It was my daughter who pushed me to self-publish—she even gave me a deadline.

Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?

A: I have a book blog: http://screwinguptime.blogspot.com/

My GoodReads author page is: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5041462.C_M_Keller

My Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/C-M-Keller/145636898869893

And I tweet @CMKellerWrites

Q: Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?

A: Absolutely! Once the characters come alive, they tell their own stories. I just write them down.

Q: And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?

A: I love movies. This is something that Mark and I have in common. If he and I were going to watch a movie together, it would be Sahara.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.  You're welcome back anytime!

Monday, April 2, 2012

God's Beautiful Canvas

Evening, everyone.

I'm about to head to bed, but I just wanted to drop a tidbit of information here in case anyone was interested.  I've recently been dabbling in photography.  Nothing professional, mind you.  Just used some gift money I'd saved to purchase a nice digital camera, and I've been taking some shots of the beauty of nature here in Missouri.

I was posting these to my facebook page, but the album has grown to over 400 pictures.  So I decided to create a page on deviantArt with some of my favorite shots out of the compilation.  So far, I've mainly uploaded pictures that were taken on my iPod before I got the camera.  But over the course of this week, I'm going to add newer shots.  If any of you are into photography or just the beauty of nature in general, feel free to go bookmark the page.


In other news, I've begun another reread/reedit of The Fourth Dimension series.  In writing Shades of Gray, I'm finding that there are a great many details I don't remember about the story (Volumes I - III were written back in 2007, after all).  So I'm going back and reading them again, and I figured I could edit mistakes and tighten up certain phrases in the process.  Gonna take some time, but my main goal is to make the work as good as it can be.

Anyway, I'm off to bed now.  Don't forget to bookmark Shades of Gray and share it with your friends.  Also, to my author friends out there, check out my new Author Submissions guidelines!  You can have your work featured right here at Searching for Heroes!

God bless,
Kevin