Thursday, August 27, 2015


Q: Jack...what made you become a writer?

A: Boredom. I had just left a factory job I had for almost twenty years at Harley Davidson in Milwaukee to support my wife who worked her way up the corporate ladder. She was transferred to Wilmington, SC, and we moved to the beautiful resort town of Hampstead. I was a stay at home dad with no friends and no life. More often than not my lunch would be a few brandy and Cokes. This was particularly hard for me because I was a military vet, former boxer, race car driver and skydiver. My youth was also exciting growing up the only child whose father was in organized crime (think white trash Tony Soprano). His addiction was fast cars and young girls. I was surrounded by both.

One day in an alcoholic haze I decided to write a book using my many adventures and crazy family as a backdrop. After chapter twenty I began to feel foolish, so I quit. While visiting the local ABC Liquor store, I was chatting with the cashier who said her father was a writer. I should let her see what I had written. So I did. Two weeks later I returned to the store, she walked from behind the counter, stuck her finger in my chest and said, “Don’t you dare quit writing.” Every week or so after that I would bring her a chapter. Seventy-seven chapters later, I had a book. The lady from the liquor store was my muse. I don’t think that is typically how writers start, but it’s what happened to me.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I’m a morning writer. After my kids leave for school, I pour a big mug of coffee and work from about 8-11 a.m. Strange thing is, I never really stop. Scenes and story lines play in my head from the time I get up until the time I go to sleep.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: No, I wouldn’t have the first clue how to outline. The entire book is in my head when I start.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: None. I finish and it is what it is. I will rewrite sentences, add to conversations, etc. Revising anything worries me because everything you change has effects on other parts of the book. Especially your timeline. Screw that up and you have big troubles.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: I consider myself an authority on this because of the number of times I have had to have my books re-edited. I’m not a trained writer. I was so bad that I had to reference another novel to find out if the period or comma went on the inside or outside of the quotation mark. My gift is storytelling, so I leave editing to the professionals. I actually have two editors and four beta readers. 

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: I don’t know that I have any. I guess my best habit is sitting down and doing it. Making time for it and being militant with family, friends and any other distractions that would take me away from writing.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: I don’t know if you would call it writer's block. However, at a point in this upcoming novel, my protagonist wouldn’t lead me where she wanted me to go. She stopped, I didn’t. I was here and ready. So I wrote her a love letter. I told her how I felt about her. Two days later I sat down [and was able to start writing again]. 

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I really didn’t know what a genre was when I started writing. This is probably why it is so hard for me to classify my books. When you don’t know what you can’t do you become creative by accident. My books have a little bit of everything. When Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn died, I ran out of things that I loved to read. I still read books from other genres but the Spy Thriller has always been my favorite. So, when I started writing I took that genre and put it on its head. When you read my books, you will know exactly why characters do what they do because you feel like you know them personally. Books one and two have stories within the story telling you about each character. I’ve been told that many of these stories could be books in their own right.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: I have four. One of them is my mom. The other three were fans of the first book that I met online and offered them the opportunity to be part of the second and third books. They are really helpful in keeping me from doing anything crazy with my character. At the end of Golden Angel I wrote a part so out of character for my protagonist that my betas became unstitched. It was a flat, "NO! You cannot do that with a character we have fallen so in love with. Don’t even think about it." They were right.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: In the third book my protagonist gets married. There is a chapter where she introduces her boyfriend/fiancĂ© to her rural Alabama, Southern Christian father. It’s probably the funniest thing I have ever written. I have two daughters, eleven and fifteen. Working those emotions through with all the characters will, I hope, help me the first time my girls drag a less than acceptable young man to my door.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: My books are linear. They will stand on their own but for full enjoyment you need to read them in order. In my latest novel my protagonist finally gets the payoff of living a moral life. From the time she was a child she suffered through many tragedies but overcame [them] with her faith, family, friends and a strong stubborn will. Of course everyone has their own definition of moral.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: I’m clueless. My books have sold through word of mouth. There is around 5000 in circulation. I will share two lessons I learned the hard way. Get a pro to do your cover. Your artist friends drawing doesn’t cut it. People spend so much time and effort on the story then throw it away with a poor cover. If that cover isn’t eye catching you will never get the average Amazon book searcher to read it. They need to stop and look. Spend the money. Second is price point. Especially if it’s your first novel. Your job is to get read. As an author that reached out to me long ago said, “You are playing for beer money.” $4.99 on the outside for a 400+ page novel; less for shorter ones. On the flip side, .99 cents, unless it’s a special, will make it appear too cheap. $2.99 to $4.99 seems to be the going rate.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: I do exactly what everyone tells you not to do. I really don’t have any bad reviews on Amazon, except one person that didn’t like my politics and I can’t help that. Goodreads on the other hand, I have had two. I contact them and thank them for reading it. No matter how ridiculous their claims I make sure they know I take all reviews seriously and then end with this, “Even though it is clear it wasn’t the best book you have ever read, it moved you enough to write a review. I will consider that a success.” My honest feedback caused one reviewer to change his review from two stars to three stars.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: Control of my content. I know several authors with publishers that have had their books stripped of what they believed was their best writing because of concerns over political correctness. I do not have those issues.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: Not getting any marketing help.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: Amy Lynn #3, The Lady of Castle Dunn. I have betas, editors, a couple of friends and myself picking apart the manuscript looking for mistakes. I truly believe it will be my best work so far.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: MiG Pilot, The Final Escape Of  Lt. Belenko by John Barron; Without Remorse by Tom Clancy; Run Silent Run Deep by Edward L Beach

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: Vince Flynn. I would want to know how he felt about his characters. If he had the same deep personal relationships with them that I do.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Steven King never tried to be Edgar Allen Poe. You should never try to be anyone other than yourself. It’s your originality that sets you apart. The greatest compliment I have ever received is, “I’ve never read anything like this." Don’t be a slave to the rules. Kick that box people want to put you in down the street.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: "I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound–if I can remember any of the damn things." – Dorothy Parker


1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love Jack's response to negative comments. Whilst I doubt I would ever reply to any negative reviews I may receive, this is admirable!