(Book reading / signing for Pokeweed this Saturday, 10/20 from 1-3pm at the amazing Star Line Books, downtown Chattanooga.)
My debut novella, POKEWEED, is now available for pre-order. When you purchase my book, it will ship your way on September 20th. Here’s a video teaser –
Prior to this publication, I wasn’t savvy to how important pre-orders were, but they ultimately determine a book’s well-being. Therefore, the more copies I sell during the pre-order period, the better its chance of living, breathing, and growing.
Writing this novella was amazing, and I’m so grateful for all those whose input went into it before publication at Black Rose. Thank you, Katerina Dotneboya, for the exceptional artwork created from halfway across the globe!
Some of my literary heroes read my work beforehand and shared their blurbs with me. They’re on my website & will be printed on the inside of this book.
I’m currently developing my first children’s picture book as well. I am so fortunate to have found a community of people who share my passion for writing both online and within the Chattanooga community.
Here are the two central link(s) to preorder POKEWEED: www.blackrosewriting.com/childrens-booksya/Pokeweed & http://ow.ly/d3cJ30lO2MS
Please share. I am so, so grateful.
#brwriting #pokeweed #throwforwardthursday
One artist to design your book.
For me, that’s a loaded question, because some of the best covers (EVER) have been released in just the past 3-5 years!
What’s your favorite cover of all-time?
And I’m not exaggerating. To the point where I lose focus of content and forget about the story itself.
I mean, I know we’ve gone gaga over visual images. Instagram is just one culprit. (Thank you 85 filters through which to view the same photo.)
Example #1: Here’s a cover I love from the terrific Seraphina series by Robert Beatty:
Set on the Biltmore Estate grounds, this novel has extreme beauty in its design and Disney Hyperion gets credit for that one.
#2, there’s Sara Pennypacker’s children’s book, Pax, with a beautiful illustration of the book’s main character by none other than Jon Klassen.
#3, To take it a step further, Klassen does another amazing job on Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest, with this amazing image:
#4, And finally, I love the cover design of this one by artist, Júlia Sardà. Absolutely breathtaking and spooky:
We love images so much that graphic novels are now outselling books. Yes. The graphic novel is outselling larger, fictional works.
Even better, the novel is being condensed and turned into the graphic novel form almost as soon as it’s released.
I’m happy people are reading. Even if the content is getting condensed year-to-year.
If one person could design your book, who would it be?
Here are 3 more exciting “writerly” events happening this summer:
- July 14th – SWIMMING THE ECHO Book signing/reading, with fellow EKU alums of the Bluegrass Writers Studio at 1:45 – 5pm (Crabbe Library, EKU campus).
- July 17th – As many have possibly seen online, we’re close to booking a screening of the Two Bird Films work: Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, in Chattanooga, TN! This film is produced by Robert Redford & Terrence Malick and features the support of Nick Offerman (yes, Ron Swanson, of Parks & Rec fame). And don’t take my word for this film being a big deal. Here’re Ron’s thoughts-
“If everybody read Wendell Berry, I believe we’d have a shot at being more decent.”
- August 5th – SWIMMING THE ECHO Book signing, alongside authors: Lindsey S. Frantz, Cody S. Decker, & Heather Lowe at 2pm (Wayne County Public Library, Monticello, KY).
Hope to see you at one, or all of these times!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
- In 3 years I’ve seen 3 distinct stories. I’m never sure where the next one will go. Young adult tone has remained from Wheelman (2016) to Swimming the Echo (2017).
What is the first book that made you cry?
- Honestly. A Walk to Remember. Please don’t tell anyone. I read it one evening and woke up sick as a dog. I mean, how sad is that.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
- I wouldn’t say practice. I don’t want to get into that. But, nepotism probably.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
- New ideas energize me. But, the editing makes me want to stay away from new projects altogether.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
- Thinking the MFA (like any degree) is instant success. It prepares you. But, that is the starting point.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
- Unless you’re John Cheever, a big ego should be left alone.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
- Seinfeld re-runs
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
- Sometimes. Reading a string of 3 or 4 great (or awful) works will make me hit the pause button on reading.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
- With a common name like mine, I thought about Jumping Jack Flash a few times.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
- Melville said originality was everything (my paraphrase). I think a mighty theme is the way we should all try to write.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
- Not a satisfied one. Writers who try to sell are never digging as deep as the blood pouring from a poet’s arm.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
- The Bluegrass Writers Studio at EKU was where I learned to share the load. It’s a community. It works best that way.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
- I’d like for them to. Seton, Kentucky is a nice slice of home for me, but I like travel stories and taking that adventure with each set of characters each time.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
- Write outside with a cold drink while overlooking the water. Forget that coffeehouse business.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
- Story collections hardly ever sell. I learned to publish first. Ask questions second.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
- Buying a Macbook to do more writing for the next next and next works.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
- I really don’t have any that come to mind.
What did you do with your first advance?
- If I wrote non-fiction and this happened (an advance), I’d buy a bunch of obscure candy bars and share them with people. Cracker Barrel has a bunch of stuff like Zero bars, Zagnut bars, and Goo Goo Clusters. It’d be fun to do that and watch peoples’ expressions.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
- My third grade teacher, Mrs. Carolyn Harris let us type stories. She sent mine to me just last year. I remember that experience favorably.
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
- Poets & Writers and Newpages.com are good ones
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
- The Dollmaker. How that one isn’t required reading is beyond me.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
- Show don’t tell. Everyone benefits from stories like that.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
- 3 currently.
What does literary success look like to you?
- Thanking God for the chance to do it again tomorrow. Not being a weirdo.
What’s the best way to market your books?
- Be yourself.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
- Research isn’t my thing, but I learn a lot when I give topics the attention they deserve. For example, I learned that the Dark Star cave beneath Uzbekistan might be the world’s deepest cave (after doing research for Swimming the Echo).
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
- It can be. Especially if the topic is one of passion and love.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
- Getting inside their head and staying put for months on end.
How many hours a day do you write?
- <1. I’m a slow writer. I often don’t write unless the premise is there. Then, I just go with it.
What did you edit out of this book?
- Swimming the Echo saw some large cuts. Getting the story focused on the cave systems in Mammoth. And it still took almost half the novel to get the characters all settled there.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
- Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magical surrealistic fiction is astounding.
What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
- Don’t slander them. Don’t let them take over. They work best for me as tertiary influences like Lincoln in Doctorow’s Ragtime.
How do you select the names of your characters?
- Not sure. I like names that roll off the tongue. Monk McHorning in The Natural Man is one of my favorites.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
- As long as their honest, what can I say.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
- Sure. Hometown references. Childhood nostalgia is there. Friends have called me on it and said Thanks.
What was your hardest scene to write?
- In Swimming the Echo, it was one of betrayal. That is always one of the hardest.
Do you Google yourself?
- Do people do that?
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
- Nothing. I think each person is on a journey (life-long) when they write.
What is your favorite childhood book?
- Holes is special.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
- Sitting down in isolation. I’m a space cadet. Being alone in a room, or even outside by myself can be torture.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
- Definitely. And read mushy first, second, and third drafts.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
- Not listen to so much metal.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
- If the creative juices are flowing, one month to two.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
- For me – no. I’d call it writer’s laziness. Not wanting to sit in the chair and delve into new ideas is where I reside mostly. Writing makes me feel like a misfit.
Following last month’s update about the release of my next novel, Swimming the Echo (5.30.17), I wanted to give another little update regarding the WHEELMAN paperback version. I’m currently in the works for finding a new cover design for it, and I’ll try to share that look (and its reprinting) soon!
In the meantime, the e-book version is alive and kicking OVER on Amazon FOR 2.99!!
Thanks for reading.
In a little over 3 months (5.30.17), my newest novel, Swimming the Echo, will be hitting bookshelves, and I wanted to give you as much notice as possible.
This novel will delve into more backstory of the fictional town of Seton, Kentucky (first featured in my story collection, Baptisms & Dogs (2014)), and the adventures of one youth who takes it upon himself to explore the terrains of love and loyalty.
Here’s an early synopsis:
IT’S AN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME.
When a summer job to explore Mammoth Cave lands in Cade Rainy’s lap, he doesn’t think twice.
THE TEEN FROM SOUTHERN KENTUCKY MAKES A BREAK FOR IT.
But when he finds his dad is connected to a man working at Mammoth, Cade discovers there’s more to this trip than meets the eye.
THE CAVE IS JUST THE START.
Cade sets out to map the real route of twisted lies through fissures and stalactites, battling claustrophobia and bats.
EXPLORE. ADVENTURE. DON’T DIE.
EXPLORE. Don’t die.
- 1. Dragon with a sore throat
- 2. The Car with a heavy undercarriage
- 3. Help! Our ferris wheel refuses to spin
- 4. Untasty caramel apple goes missing
- 5. Hackysack, a new Olympic sport
- 6. Look! The Grand Canyon is filled with Nickelodeon goo
- 7. Spam – an underdog story about America’s other luncheon meat
- 8. Batman: lost in a dancehall
- 9. The Edible moon is inhabited by Rugby players
- 10. Lonely manual transmission 4 Sale
- 11. Inline skating RETURNS to Orange County, CA
- 12. Disco: it’s a discotheque in 2016 y’all
- 13. Grifford the Big Blue Beetle
- 14. Trash Day – a crew’s all-too-scary story at the landfill
- 15. Who Forgot to Feed Sparky Last Week?*
- 16. Have you seen Sparky?*
- 17. Sparky, where are you?*
*Part of a 3-book series
The hunt for a publisher is like seeking out a future spouse. The more you look, you realize it’s not about looking at all.
Painful reminders abound EVERYWHERE.
The chief form of rejection is via email (21st century medium that it is).
The messages usually take on the traditional form of:
“…thanks for considering [ … ]. We are not taking [ … ] at this time. I hope you find a publisher soon. Thanks again.”
No foul language. No harm done. Right?
But, other mediums are greatly preferred to the stale email: phone call, snail mail, or that coveted in-person meeting.
It’s the heart of the matter. A book takes a long time to craft, edit, and maybe, hopefully, possibly, one day publish. The rejection emails storm the gates, flood the inbox, screaming- No! No! No!
Variations of the thanks for considering phraseology hit us dead across the forehead.
We long for a congratulations! sentiment. Just once. The elusive snow owl coming out to hoot.
Twas not today. I hope you fare better.
Some places that really help me are: Writer’s Market, Writer’s Digest (see, literary agents portion), Poets & Writers (pw.org), newpages.com (for contests) & Literary Marketplace. Check them out when you can. Also, submitting to competitions can help you gain traction in a saturated market.
The pros say to attend writing conferences (for your intended market) and seek out literary agents and publishers that way. It helps to remove submission barriers. I’ve not tried this more than once and my results were slim. I might try this again in the next go-around of conferences in my neighborhood.
If you have questions, feel free to write on here. I’ll respond accordingly. I’m always happy to discuss successes, possibilities, and general Q&As. Thanks!