Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m the world’s oldest teenager, regardless whether my physical appearance agrees with that appraisal. I grew up reading a book a day of military history, classic SF or Fantasy. I’d reading Lord of the Rings twenty times before it became popular. After writing non-fiction for thirty years my first novel was published in 2016 and much to my shock it sold a lot of copies. I’ve written twelve books so far, have a contract for a World War Two book to be published in 2019, and have four more novels in various stages of production.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The latest book is Standing At The Edge, The Last Brigade Book 3. Although it’s military SF, it was partly inspired by my dismay at the divisive politics ripping the USA apart. That, and I like blowing stuff up on the written page.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Regardless of what I do or don’t accomplish during the day, I have a ritual every night. My wife and I eat dinner and catch up on favorite TV shows or read. Around 9 pm I start letting our 8 dogs out to use the potty. (Two are rescue pit bulls we’re fostering, and we call this their pittie potty.) While this is happening I put away food, clean the kitchen, etc. Once that’s all taken care of I adjourn to my office to write until midnight, usually with my youtube rock and roll playlist in the background.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Wow, there’s so many. In non-fiction, Cornelius Ryan, David McCullough, Robert K. Massie and Adrian Goldsworthy would be a few of them. For SF/Fantasy the list is very long. Roger Zelazny’s “Nine Princes in Amber” series is a foundation of my writing style. Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and Karl Edward Wagner underline my fantasy outlook, while Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven undoubtedly influence my SF stuff.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently outlining Book 4 of my best selling series, The Last Brigade and have about 18k words of text written. A secret project with a projected finish date of Feb. 1 is 51k words long. Helion Books has me under contract to produce a World War Two non-fiction book and that’s at least 50k words long now. A fantasy novella in my Sharp Steel and High Adventure series is 18k words long, there’s a prequel for The Last Brigade that’s at 35k words…there’s more, but you get the idea.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Bribes. I pay people to read my books. Okay, not really.
I’d be lying if I said I know the answer to this. I never stop marketing so it’s hard to say what works best. I do hand out a lot of postcards with my book cover on one side and a synopsis on the other, mostly at the grocery store or other places. Like I said, marketing with me is constant.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Yes, I do. NEVER, ever, ever edit what you’re written until you finish it. NEVER. If you have to read a few paragraphs to remember where you left off, and are disciplined enough not to edit them, fine. Otherwise, editing doesn’t happen until you type The End.
This is where so many new writers defeat themselves. When you read something you just wrote the tendency is to think it sucks. It happens to all of us, no matter how many books you’ve sold. That voice in your head keeps telling you that you’re a fraud and somebody is going to find that out.
Put some distance in time from your work and you can judge it better. Writing and editing are two different processes.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Okay, not really. My advice to new writers is not original to me, it’s what I learned after many years of failure. I was a Creative Writing major in college and it took me 30 years to unlearn what I was taught and finally write something worth reading. All they taught me was rules, rules and more rules. I had to forget the rules to find my inner voice.
What are you reading now?
I assume you mean reading for pleasure, not research. A friend wrote a wonderful historical novel titled “Orphan Hero”, the author is John Babb. Really well written.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Interstellar travel. If I can’t arrange that, I’ll settle for Fiji, Jamaica or another warm beach with tasty food and frosty drinks. But I really want to tour Austria for my upcoming World War Two book.
I also look forward to attending some new SF cons this year.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Lord of the Rings, without a doubt. Adrian Goldsworthy’s biography of Julius Caesar. The Bible with all of the Apocrypha, and Zelazny’s complete Amber series.