He wears a soft tanned coonskin cap, a buckskin jacket tastefully decorated with blue beads and fringe and a necklace of grizzly claws. Read on and find out more…
According to Wikipedia, ‘a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public.’ Sounds like a writer to me!
Join me as another one of these unsung superheroes invites into their personal ‘batcave’.
What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material? My early efforts are rough drafts written in longhand and covered in red pen markings that designate the areas needing improvements. For some shadowy purpose a lot of the work remains tucked away on my shelves in neatly organized binders. There’s no good reason to keep them except as a reminder of the many hours spent in torment trying to reach what seemed at the time an unachievable goal of perfection in fiction.
All superheroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell. Mild mannered is my true identity and the state of being that I prefer. The secret is to avoid disappointing me with ineptitude in job performance. That’s when the Hulk is exposed. Blunt and sharp corrections spare no feelings after a certain line of conduct has been breached. This beast has been molded out of life experiences and he’s one that I prefer to keep locked away at all times.
Who are your partners in crime? A talented team of professional editors makes up my partners in crime. They have helped me wring the best out of my writing with an uncanny detection of errors in style and grammar. They also bring to the table their perceptive suggestions to polish the storyline that I somehow miss. This team includes my son and his creative talents along with my wife and her endless patience to put up with an author in the house.
What are their superpowers? Their superpowers are a diverse collection of skills that most importantly include a mastery over the technology Gods. Endless bloody battles have raged to overcome the pesky gremlins that reside inside a Mac. These devils are crafty and lay in wait until the most inopportune moment to attack. They have been responsible for countless hours of sleep and fermented a burning sense of anxiety at every available opportunity. Without the assistance of my partners in crime I would have been reduced to a blubbering rookie attacked by my alter ego: the Hulk that shows no mercy, especially to himself.
Where do you get your superpowers from? My superpowers are a gift from deceased ancestors from long ago. Through their supernatural ability to communicate with me I have been blessed with answers to complex problems that I lacked the ability to decipher. I’m not aware of their paranormal activities until the spell they put me under has long passed. It’s only in reflection that I realize a mysterious occurrence has transformed the words I put down on paper into a revealing amplification of human relationships.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like? My secret lair is inside a cave in Colorado furnished with a minimum of tools and equipment to survive in a manner now lost to time. Cut off from crooked politics and the rising influence of technology I would be free to live life simply as suggested by Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? I read constantly to stay in tune, but my superpowers are a gift from deceased ancestors and thus they cannot be improved upon. I maintain a faith that the assistance I require will be there at the precise moment it’s needed. Faith is a slippery concept to control and that is the weakness of my superpower, but it has yet to fail me.
How do you insure they are used only for good? In life there are no assurances. At any time evil can overtake any individual. Therefore, I have to be aware of what I encounter and feel compelled to act upon. What has been good can become evil and what has been evil may become good, but probably not. It only seems to go from good to bad.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like? The mountain man super hero I prefer to be would wear a soft tanned coonskin cap above a buckskin jacket tastefully decorated with blue beads across the chest and fringe dangling from the sleeves. A necklace of grizzly claws would be draped around my neck and hanging from a cord of leather fashioned from the hide of the same grizzly that supplied the claws. The ensemble would be accented with coal black buffalo pants tucked into double padded moccasin boots that clatter from the rattles of a snake stitched into the uppers.
What is your kryptonite? My biggest weakness is women. My, what a strange power they exude. Able to change lives in a heartbeat. Full of charm, they have the contrasting talents to nurture wounded souls or devastate spurned lovers. Completely aware of their influence on men, they go about their activities confident in their Kryptonian supremacy.
What are the biggest challenges faced in your writing? Everything. When I started writing my typing skills were horrible and after six years and three books I still have to watch my fingers in order to type. My most productive days have been spent away from the keyboard and secluded in some remote woods where I have knocked out two chapters at a time writing in longhand. I discovered this method worked just fine and I could do my first revisions as I sat down and pecked away at the keyboard. Secondly, finding the confidence to believe what I had crafted was worthy of public consumption. As a photographer and long ago artist I can instantly tell you if my drawings or photos are good. Or not. As an author I had no idea if what I was attempting to communicate was getting through to the reader. It was all between the ears and I had no way to hold the work at arms length and say “Yeah, that looks good.” It took a lot of positive feedback from a long list of individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds before I became convinced that they truly liked what I was putting down.
What was the supervillain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it? He’s too real to deny. Health is the supervillain we all fear to face and he has been a constant companion since two months before the first book in my trilogy was published. At that time a supervillain virus left permanent inner ear damage and sitting at the keyboard for too long now produces severe vertigo. There’s no repairing the damage done. I’ve had to learn ways to cope with the dizziness and discovered that frequent breaks of physical activity are the best remedy.
What important lessons have you learned along the way? The most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust my gut instinct. The initial storyline ideas have proven to be the best. Sometimes they are slow to materialize, but when they click into place I discovered it was best to run with the concept wherever that particular idea led. What started out as a fictionalized short story about a true-life Indian raid on my great-great grandfathers homestead morphed into my first novel. Along the way I realized that one book would not be able to contain the story and the idea of a trilogy took root. I trusted my instinct and gave myself the time to develop and expand upon the tale until the trilogy was completed this past August to much praise from readers.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way? The first meeting with my developmental editor after her initial proofread of the Hard Land to Rule manuscript produced a pleasant surprise. We had just begun discussing her thoughts when she said, “You have a unique storytelling voice that captures the essence of the wild Texas frontier.” She followed up her comment with an explanation that she was “surprised how quickly she got caught up in the story.” This was coming from an editor that hesitated to take on the project because she “usually doesn’t do this type of story.” What she meant was she didn’t like “westerns.” Little did she know I was in agreement with her and had tried mightily to craft a story that was much more than a “dime store western.” At a later meeting to discuss the improvements she had suggested, I asked her if she remembered what she said about the book at the first meeting. She didn’t and was surprised that I remembered verbatim the comment about “capturing the essence of the wild Texas frontier.” I told her it was a compliment I would always remember since I was on pins and needles wondering what would be her professional opinion of my work. To hear such a powerful affirmation of my efforts was unforgettable. When she agreed to have her name attached to the quote on the back cover of Hard Land to Rule was the moment I thought I might have a winner. Her support and valuable suggestions got me over the hump and supplied the confidence I needed to make the work available to the public. I haven’t regretted the decision to publish for a moment and her belief in my work was a life-changing event for me.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change? I’m not sure I would change anything. It was an overwhelming learning experience for me and I was blessed with the patience and assistance of my wife along with a talented team of editors and beta readers that took a genuine interest in my work. I’m totally satisfied with the end results and the five star reviews the trilogy has received. Acceptance and praise from readers is the first and most important level of success. The next goal is to obtain a wider presence on the marketplace. This is where I equate the marketing for a self-published author to be as difficult as climbing Mount Everest solo, without oxygen. The help of a respected and affordable publicist or agent is one area that I might change if I could turn back the wheels of time.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why. I’ve received countless tidbits of advice while on this journey to becoming a published author and this is the one thing I believe a new author has to be able to do: Keep an open mind and learn from every experience and every suggestion offered along the way. The cumulative affect for me has been a transforming experience from neophyte to an author that is confident in the value of his work.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now. Into the Hard Hills came out in August of this year and it concludes the Hard Land to Rule Trilogy that has appealed to a broad array of readers. According to them the most compelling reason to take up the trilogy is the immersion they have felt with the characters and landscape. They identify with the characters and develop a stake in the emerging conflicts. They recognize the lust and temptation. They feel the angst. And they revel in the connection with an authentic tale of historical fiction told in a manner that keeps them on the edge of their seats and unable to put the book down. Each book in the trilogy stands on its own merit and sweeps readers into a saga that continues to prey on their minds months down the road.
What’s in store for you in the future? At the present time I’m in rehab mode. I’m out to regain my strength after a little over six years of work getting the Hard Land to Rule Trilogy ready for release. Although I’ve temporarily kicked it back a notch, I still stay busy marketing the trilogy and attending book-signing events. So there is no real rest for the weary, but I’m feeling better daily and hope to keep the improvements going in the right direction.
Do you have any other big projects on the horizon? Fans have been asking about what’s next and my dream is to take up a new writing project as soon as the inspiration strikes. I have a few ideas I’m kicking around and another work of fiction is in the future. My goal is to create another story that can back up the overwhelming compliments on the Hard Land to Rule Trilogy. When I’m up to the challenge the long days behind the keyboard begin anew!
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