1: What is the most productive
time of the day for you to write?
I may be weird, but I write
everywhere and anywhere that's convenient for the project at hand, and for my
creative juices at the time that my subconscious mind is feeding me the
information (wordage); and I become the "lowly" medium, for all
intents and purposes. I really should list my subconscious mind as co-writer on
my next published book. I discovered its benefits years ago
when writing my first novel, THE BARRIER, a novel of social commentary
(soon to be available as an e-book on Amazon's Kindle e-book reader. The story
line was based on my experiences as a social worker here in New Jersey. I had
backed myself into a "literary" corner during the writing of the
first draft, and having heard of using the subconscious mind as a writing
prompt in an article in THE WRITER MAGAZINE, I said to myself, "What the
hell, I'll try it." I did that night and applied the old addage,
"sleep on it," and it worked. The next morning, without taking time to
eat breakfast, I immediately went into my office and started to record the
"feed" from my subconscious mind, which became a case of nonstop
writing until I had filled nine sheets of yellow legal-sized pad paper--by
hand--writing right through the previous story problem without stopping or
thinking of what to write. So, I've been using my subconscious mind
ever since with effective results. It's not let me down yet. I recommend
it highly as a writing tool.
2: Do you start your projects
writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I usually do the first draft
in longhand, because I don't like anything mechanical coming between me and the
creative effort. I usually write the first draft in blue or black ink. Then,
after I let it "cool" down with a time lapse interval, I'll go back
to the first draft with a red ink pen and revise the usually messy, sloppy,
over-written fist draft of whatever it is, fiction or nonfiction, long or short
format. The reason I use red ink for the revisions is to highlight and
differentiate the revisions from the original wordage at a glance, when I
eventually go to the computer and not just to transpose the first draft but to
re-create it into a second draft. After that all my revisions and drafts are
done on the computer. But I do print a copy of each page of the revised first
draft, which becomes my second draft. Then I revise that with a red ink pen and
with the revised text I go back to the computer to re-create yet a third draft.
The process is repeated for each subsequent draft. Everything I've ever written
has gone through at least five drafts before I even consider showing it to my
first reader, who is my private editor. She usually finds something wrong with
my text and we go over every page and talk over her suggestions and usually I
cave and make the revisions. It's an exhausting process, but it's necessary in
order to create publishable writing, long or short.
One note of advice: find
a person, amateur or professional, who is word/language/literary knowledgeable
and an annoying nitpicker detail-type person, because they make the best kind
of editor. I should know, I do editing on the side myself. But everybody needs
an editor; so don't fight it, get an editor.
3: What do you draw inspiration
I draw inspiration from
life itself. When I was younger--all the way back to my growing-up days, I felt
I was different than the other kids. I quess even then I marched to a different
drummer, so to speak. I was more observant. I sensed it right away. I was more
curious. I asked more questions, and I really listened to the answers. That's
how I first learned to store information in my brain, I guess. Even in school,
when the other students used to groan and moan during history and geography
classes, I used to "eat" that stuff up. I loved reading about people
from the past and what happened to them. And I loved studying maps and finding
out about our 48 states and foreign countries and their people. It fascinated
me. I'm still that curious kid. I enjoy doing the necessary research for my
writing projects even now. And if we writers have lengthy careers, and do
extensive research for each project, we can't help but eventually
become knowledgeable in many areas and subjects. It's an occupational hazard
that we turn into annoying know-it-alls. It's true. Just ask my wife,
Catherine, she'll tell you how annoying I am. Whenever she's stuck for an
answer, I usually offer the correct information, providing more facts and
details than she cares to know. She says I'm so irritating. I get a laugh out
of that, because it's one of the few social pleasures I get out of life these
days--irritating my wife.
All the writers who have come
before me, from Shakespeare (my favorite writer) to our modern times, have
inspired me, including the dead ones as well as the living. They struggled.
They persevered. They raised themselves out of obscurity, and so can
I. Rejection has never stopped me or deterred me from continuing on. When a
writer quits, because it's too tough to keep fighting the gatekeepers, then
it's one more victory for those same gatekeepers. Writers need to develop thick
hides to ward off the "slings and arrows" of constant rejection and
to keep on writing and to keep on submitting. Don't let them get to you. Never
quit writing. Just keep on revising and making your stuff better until it gets
accepted for publication. I repeat: never give up on yourself, never
give up on your writing, just keep improving it. Somebody will eventually like
it enough to publish it. So what's the name of the writing game? Revise,
revise, revise. As for me, being a writer is who I am. It defines me. It's my
oxygen. As long as I keep writing, I keep breathing.
4: Do you set goals for yourself
when you sit down to write such as word count?
If I'm working on a new
project, I have the automatic goal written in stone hovering above my head: You
must write five full pages at each sitting, and you don't stop till you reach
that goal, pal, so no procrastinating, hear? (five pages is about 1250 words)
It works for me. I'm born under the Virgo sign. We're the workaholics of the
world and we're as self-critical as we are critical of others. We're also (at
least I know I am) compulsive neurotic detail people and possibly anal
retentive, which is the story of my life that I can sum up in one word:
constipation. In other words, we make perfect writers.
5: Are you a published or a self
published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I'm both from a
publishing standpoint. I started out having others publish me, then I decided I
wanted more control over my work; so I took the self-publishing route
for a while. Now, I'm back to having other people publish me--in print. But
I've recently decided to revise and self-publish my previously published work,
bringing my novels into the digital age through Amazon's Kindle Direct
Publishing program. Up to now I've published three of my print novels, which
are still available in paper format.
SEARCHING, a novel of social
commentary about a man who stopped being black, Negro or colored. THE
SNAKESKIN, a lost-in-the-woods juvenile/young adult novel.
VENDETTA MOUNTAIN, a novel of
suspense/adventure set in southern Italy and involves an Italian-American and
his Irish-American wife and the threat to their lives because of a long-dormant
feud in the husband's ancestral mountain village by people he doesn't even
know, and has no clue as to why. All three books are now available on the
Kindle e-book reader and can be downloaded for the ridiculously low price of
$2.99. Hey, the future is digital--and it's here--right now! That's why I'm
preparing two other novels for the Kindle. THE BARRIER is social commentary and
is based on my experiences as a social worker and a school teacher. LITTLE
OSCAR is erotic realism/social commentary, and it's based on the last case of
incest that I worked on when a social worker. Both books will be available on
the Kindle some time in May of 2011. Amazon also offers screenplay writers
wonderful opportunities to get their work noticed through their Amazon Studios
program to which I have entered eight of my screenplays into their
script-writing contests over these last several months.
As for my covers, my
talented wife, Catherine, is a professional artist and she helps design my
covers through easily available art software that would be too difficult
for yours truly, the inveterate and technically challenged computer
6: What drives you to choose the
career of being a writer?
I've always been a word kind
of guy. Words, semantics, diction, grammar, language; they all fascinate me.
Each word has its own history. A day never goes by that I don't have my nose
aimed at a dictionary's page looking up an esoteric word or phrase. I'm also a
sucker for books on grammar, language, punctuation, writing, publishing, book
promotion, and just about anything that applies to writing and publishing and
writers in general. My attraction for the written word is similar to a cowboy's
attraction to horses. At this stage in my life I wouldn't want to be anything
else but a writer. I love what I'm doing: playing God with my characters and
their worlds. In my earlier life, when I was forced to provide for my family
(read: children and a dog) I had to be satisfied writing part time. Now, I can
write full time, and I can't wait to get up in the mornings to write, market,
promote, whatever is needed to get the creative juices flowing.
7: Do you own an ebook reading
At the present time I
don't own an e-book reader, and that's mainly because I'm not a gadget person.
8: Who are some of your favorite
authors and What are you reading now?
My all-time top favorite
writer is William Shakespeare. When you read his plays and poetry and see/hear
a performance of his better plays, you realize his genius, and that's because
he delt with universals, which are what drive our characters and make them
human to our readers. So, is there any doubt that universals (greed, love,
revenge, loyalty, family,
companionship, friendship, fear, loneliness, etc.) are the key to writing
fiction/plays/screenplays that will have your work read and appreciated
hundreds of years from now, like Shakespeare's great plays: Hamlet, Macbeth,
King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Merchant of
Venice, Richard the Third, Henry V, etc.?
don't have any favorite present-day American or European fiction writers,
because I really don't care for what they're producing, to be honest. Every now
and then I sample a novel to see if I can get excited about the author, but I
end up putting the book down and remaining disappointed with the subject matter
or the writing itself.
Some past American writers I
liked were John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, James Jones. They
wrote the kind of realism I favored. I've always been sort of luke warm toward
Hemingway. Currently I'm reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. I read his
DaVinci Code. He tells a good story, but I don't care for his writing style. I
read the Stieg Larrson's turgid novels: talk about being over written, but
still he told a good story in each book and the main young female
character was interesting.
9: What do you think of book
trailers and do you have any plans to have any?
They're good for
promotion, if they are well done. Otherwise, they're a distraction rather than
beneficial, because you're dealing with a visual medium, while promoting a
completely different medium: the written word. Each medium appeals to a
different part of our brains and psyches--and audience--in my opinion.
10: How did you come up with the
title of your latest book?
wrote a what-if historical fiction novel titled THE LINCOLN CAPER. It's set in
1864 and involves the kidnapping of Lincoln and his subsequent rescue in time
for the 1864 election. I'm a Civil War buff. I belong to Civil War Round Table
groups and have written other Civil War works such as YOUNG HEROES OF THE CIVIL
which is about kids as young
as eight and nine who ran away from home to enlist as drummer boys. Some went
on to win medals for bravery and courage. I'm also a big admirer of Lincoln. He
was what a president should be like--in my opinion. The USA could use another
Lincoln. He brought us through the worst partisan upheaval this country has
ever known--to date.
11: What are you working on now
that you can talk about?
I'm revising my
previously published novels and formatting the text to be included in Amazon's
Kindle Direct Publishing program for its Kindle e-book reader. I'm hoping to
complete the work some time in May of this year. On occasion lately I've been
doing shorter pieces: articles, essays and short stories for print and online
websites. I think my next novel will be another what-if historical novel set
either during the Civil War or the Revolutionary War, which was actually
America's first Civil War, since the most vicious fighting was between the
American rebels and the American Tories, who were loyal to the British Crown.
One third of population were rebels, one third were Tories, one third were
independent citizens. Translated: they couldn't care less who won the war.
That's why it took eight years to settle the argument.