We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?
I come from a long line of teachers. My grandmother, my dad, my mom, and most of my aunts and uncles were teachers, as are my three sisters and my wife, and many of my first cousins. My father as an English professor, and I wanted to follow in his steps. I love the higher education environment. Colleges and universities are to me like sugar water to a hummingbird.
I have always had a talent for writing, which was driven by my passion for stringing words together to say something that would make others take notice. My teachers, all through the school system, told me so. I have written my whole life. My cupboards are filled with my writing, which spans a forty-five year period. I have bits and pieces of stories, completed short stories, essays, and notes galore.
I became fascinated with books at a very young age. I must have read every
CURIOUS GEORGE book out there. At the age of ten, I self-published my first book, a short synopsis of California history. My parents bought the only copy, but I was a published author at an early age. The writing bug struck me hard.
I have written my whole life. My study at home is filled with manuscripts of one sort or another. When I retired from my 40-year career as an English professor, I found that I now had the time to work on the unfinished manuscripts I had started years before. I have now published seven books. In retirement I have suddenly found the time I need to devote to one of my lifelong passions: writing. And I also am privileged to have the time to see things through to completion. The unfinished works in my study are quickly vanishing, to my delight.
I am not out for money. As a retired college professor, I have a nice pension. Rather, I want to write until I die. I love creating characters and plots. Writing to me is like reading. I never know precisely where things will lead. I am in good health, and my doctor told me that writing is a very healthy avocation for someone in my situation: a retiree. I love his advice.
The most difficult part of writing for me is placing the following words on my manuscript: The End. I get very involved with my characters as I write. I laugh and cry with them, and I agonize over their actions and their circumstances. They are like my own children. I am sad to see them grow up and then go off to live their lives on their own. Saying goodbye is tough, even though I know that they have found a very good home on Amazon.
When I am in the groove, which is the vast majority of the time when I am sitting at my keyboard, working on a manuscript, the characters call out to me, leading me onward, and it is exciting to me, because I never quite know where they will lead me. I have fun writing. It is pleasurable for me. The very second, though, that something seems too tough to handle at the moment, I stop. I will then go off and live my everyday life, waiting until the trigger I need pops into my head. That’s when I run back upstairs to my study and start working once again.
It is a good life. I enjoy writing immensely. Life is too short to do otherwise.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
People often ask me how I decided to self-publish my own books. The answer is simple, and yet there is some complexity to it. I wanted my work to be read right away. If I had gone the traditional publishing route, COVERT DREAMS, DEADLY EYES, THE FAMOUS UNION, THE SURVIVAL OF MARVIN BAINES, TRIANGLE OF HOPE, SAVORING THE WORLD: HIT AND MISADVENTURES, and THE THREE KITTTIES THAT SAVED MY LIFE would still be somewhere along the lengthy publishing route, lying there not yet ready to be put into readers’ hands. It takes months, sometimes years, to get one’s work published the traditional way. I am so delighted that Amazon Direct Publishing came onto the scene. My books have already sold thousands of copies since their birth at their new home at Amazon. And in that short time, my books have made me an international author. Copies of them have already been bought in England, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, and Singapore, in addition to wide distribution throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, they are also now available in paperback on Amazon. None of this would have been possible, in such a short time, if I had chosen to pursue the traditional publishing route.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, the highly acclaimed international author, often complained of having to change parts of his books, especially endings, to satisfy his publishers. He is not, by far, the only author who has had to adhere to someone else’s editing in order to be published. In my case, the case of a self-published novelist on Amazon Kindle, I have complete control over every single aspect of my book, every word, every punctuation mark, and even to the appearance of the cover. It is my choice, and mine alone, how to begin and how to end my own book. I have complete control over all of my characters’ actions, thoughts, and words. In a nutshell, as a self-published author, I am the true writer of my own work. No editor has had a hand in changing even a single word of my original work. The book is mine, and mine alone, and it is presented to the reading public exactly as I want it to be, nothing changed to satisfy a publisher’s whim.
How did you get the idea for the book?
After my wife died of leukemia, I was close to a basket case. I blamed myself for her untimely death, much as Clint Westerly does in my book, although both of us are totally blameless for the terrible disease that took our spouses. Since I simply could not get my head around this unwarranted rumination, one day I just began putting some thoughts onto paper, and, as the cliché goes, Triangle of Hope just evolved from that point. I was a university writing professor for over forty years, teaching at universities in Asia, the Caribbean, Saudi Arabia, and here in the United States, so writing has always played an enormous part of my life. I lived my book as I wrote it, captivated by the downs and then the ups of the characters. I am delighted to say that I was able to come up with an ending that I only wish could jump off the page to become reality for the world in which we find ourselves today.
Since I am a diehard international traveler, I was able to incorporate a wide variety of experiences I have had while traveling as well as giving written birth to a couple of my own long held, dreamlike fantasies, such as taking out all of my retirement funds and traveling the world in luxury for as long as my money lasts.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
If you have an urge to write, then keep plugging away. Writing is a lonely business, and there are so many distractions and excuses to be used to put off the hard part: actually putting pen to paper, or, in today’s world, putting your fingers to the keyboard.