On your website, the first point under Fun Facts is that you read the first and last page of a book before buying it. Is that something you always did? If not, what prompted that habit?
I’ve done that for years, yes! But I can edit that down now to just reading the first and last line. I love openings and endings and I figure if I love the first line and the last line then it’s a good indicator I will love the book all the way to through.
What about the first and last page persuades you to buy a book?
It’s an emotional pull for me and usually physical. If a book’s beginning (or ending) makes me hold my breath, gasp, or freeze in place – I know it’s a good sign. It’s amazing how powerful words can be in transforming how we feel.
You served as a US Navy Photographer. Did that experience inspire any stories for your writing? How so?
Yes! In A Human Element, book 1 in the Element Trilogy, my male lead, Ben, is a Naval photographer stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, like I was many years ago. Ben gets himself in a wee bit of trouble with the locals at a secluded spot on the island of Oahu. As military service people we were warned to stay away from certain island locales, like the Pali Lookout where the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian people were rumored to haunt. There were also rumors of non-locals disappearing at the lookout. Thrown off the edge? Who knows for sure, but it drove my imagination to include a dark event surrounding this place in my book.
I read you have a two-book deal with Month9Books starting with Joshua and the Lightning Road that’s out in May of this year. Can you share a little about it?
Set in an imaginary dark world that steals human children for work slaves, the book is magical and adventure-packed, filled with lots of friendships, battles, and bad guys – and was inspired by my own son, Joshua. In Joshua and the Lightning Road twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark world where stolen human kids are work slaves and ruled by the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians who come to see Joshua as the hero prophesied to restore their lost powers. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.
You mention you can’t eat doughnuts (or Kit Kats and Doritos). Can you be bribed with doughnuts? J Do you have foods you eat instead?
I can most certainly be bribed with doughnuts – and pizza. Very hard to resist! For a healthier twist on my favorite foods I love creative vegetarian (Blue Sage restaurant in Warminster, PA, is my secret place to indulge!) and seafood.
I like your writers page on your site that has “inspiration, advice, and technique” for writers. Have you ever taught a writing class? If so, what did you teach on? If not, would that be something you would consider?
I haven’t taught any writing classes yet, but I love sharing in-person what I’ve learned about craft and the publishing industry – and formalizing that in a class setting is definitely a goal for 2015. However, I have been invited to participate in author panels at conventions and writing conferences where I’ve discussed topics on publishing and book marketing. I’m lucky to have a cross-industry background in marketing which benefits my author career.
For the Write Stuff conference, can you please give us a sneak peek into what you will talk about in your Saturday presentations, “Using Revision Techniques to Write a Better First Draft” and “Creating the Foundations of World-Building”?
In working with a privately hired developmental editor and the editorial staff at three publishers over the years, it occurred to me that if I apply what I learn from them through the editorial process then I can apply that knowledge to first-drafting. The revision course discusses how to position yourself in your writing using techniques in such areas as narrative flow and logic, character development, and undeveloped plot lines – and more, to write a stronger first-draft with a final-draft in mind.
The world-building class is an introduction to building a world within your story, whether it’s fantasy or real world. We will look at book examples that have created a believable world and how they did so, and also discuss topics such as world rules, hierarchy, setting, and how to avoid stereotypes.
For more writer resources visit the resource section of my website at: http://www.elementtrilogy.com/writers-corner/