My Smashwords Interview

Here is my Smashwords author interview. You can click on this link to read it at Smashwords (and maybe look around my author site), or read it here at WordPress. I thought it would be a nice addition here in case I delete my Smashwords site someday.

When did you first start writing?

    Like many of us, I began writing at elementary school and continued in high school through encouragement and support from my teachers. They saw something I didn’t, so I never knew I could become a professional writer until I was at college, earning a degree in art.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

    Yes. The year was 1966 and I was 9 years old. There were plenty of books, movies and TV programs about outer space, and Star Trek had just made it to the TV airwaves. My first story was about five astronauts landing on Mars and exploring the planet. There were no martians or any other life there except for the astronauts who ended up colonizing the place inside a glass city they built. I had a fascination of someday living on another planet.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

    I became an indie author when I was 13 and received a typewriter for my birthday. I wrote stories, mimeographed the pages, put them in binders (or stapled the pages if I didn’t have money), and gave my books to family and friends. (This is when I developed the characters and places I still write about.) And like I did all those years ago, I still give away my books. It’s delightful to know your work is appreciated when you see a smiling face and hear that person say “I loved your book. Do have any more?”
    I think many people don’t realize that a few centuries ago, many authors who had their own printing presses were indie authors. Those who wanted to spend more time writing, hired someone to operate the presses. And someone somewhere opened a printing shop and created the first publishing house, changing the way authors published their books.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

    As I mention in my Smashwords bio, I grew up in a small town with lots of cousins who liked to tell ghost stories. I carried on the tradition when I began writing my books.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

    I began marketing my ebooks with Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program because they were the easiest to find. Their author page and my blog have helped customers find my books. But the most effective technique has been word-of-mouth.

How do you approach cover design?

    I’m an old-school graphic designer, so I use pencil and paper and begin with a dozen or more black and white thumbnail sketches of the story’s main theme. From there, watercolor on paper board is the easiest medium for me, so I do a mock cover in paint after I choose a final sketch. I scan the painting, work on it using Photoshop, and transfer it to Microsoft Word for the text. Then I transfer that back to Photoshop and clean things up for the final cover.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

    I am always writing, it seems, even in my sleep. But when I do get away from writing and have time to relax, I enjoy watching baseball. I was an avid player in my youth, and I played softball in a men’s league for many years. I also read a lot of history, philosophy and biography books, as well as urban fantasy, and I snap wildlife photos and doodle in sketchbooks in my spare time.

How do you discover the ebooks you read?

    I’ve been a Kindle-holic since 2010, so I’m often browsing the books at Amazon. Before that, I surfed the internet looking for indie authors who published online. I recently joined Wattpad and began reading some of the many authors there. And now that I’ve discovered Smashwords, I plan to increase the number of ebooks in my online library.

What is your e-reading device of choice?

    Kindle.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

    The unfinished story. I have many. And it seems as soon as I finish one, I have added two more unfinished ones to my list.

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Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy reading my books.

I’m At Smashwords

After publishing my ebooks at Amazon for three years, I finally stuck my toes in the waters of Smashwords today, checked for sharks and other things that bite, and took the plunge.

See my profile page at Smashwords. Click here.

After I filled out my profile page, I uploaded an ebook formatted to Smashwords’s specifications. It didn’t take long for them to publish my book, but there was a short delay because I didn’t assign an ISBN to it. There was no prompt at the setup page to assign an ISBN, which I think would be a nice feature there. Smashwords doesn’t require authors to assign ISBNs to their ebooks, but it’s necessary if you want to sell at Apple and Kobo stores through Smashwords. So, I assigned an ISBN to my ebook, which has me hoping the numbers took and my ebook will end up listed at the Apple and Kobo stores.

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Old Bones: A Collection of Short Stories is free and contains earlier published material. The following is the ebook’s official blurb:

A collection of 19 short stories spanning 40+ years of the author’s career as an independent author. The stories are divided into three groups: Tales for Young Adults, Oddities, and Tales for Adults, and center on eerie Ridgewood, Pennsylvania and some of the characters who live there.

Go to my book’s Smashwords download page to get it free. Or wait a few days for it to arrive at the major online ebook stores.

It is my intention to increase my ebooks availability, meet some new readers, and perhaps strike some new friendships.

Sharing

I made some changes to my blog and took down my copyright protection notice. This doesn’t mean my work isn’t copyright protected. You still cannot take my stuff without permission and get rich on it without cutting me in for a piece of the action. But I want readers and followers to know I have no problem if you copy and share my work with others. In fact, I insist you do. It has always been my pleasure sharing my work with others. That’s the reason I started this blog.

When I was a teenager and realized I was talented enough to show my art with artists who called themselves professional because their critics called them that, I knew I’d never be a “true professional” because I gave my art away instead of selling it. I still do. And that’s because I never think about making money when I draw or paint a picture. I only think about making art. So when someone likes my art, I give it to them. It makes us happy. Most people offer me money, but I always tell them payment isn’t necessary.

I enjoy giving away my works, whether art or writing. Forty-five years ago when I received a typewriter and wrote my first book on it, I mimeographed the pages, stapled them together, and gave the copies to anyone interested in reading my book. Its recipients were family and a few friends, but I developed a small fan following who were eager to read more of my stories. I felt like Sally Field receiving her Oscar and saying “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” We all have a need to belong, and that moment (knowing people liked my book) was a shining one for me.

Today, I continue giving away my art and books. It makes the recipients and me happy. My critics frown on this and say “If you give away your work, no one will take you seriously and you won’t make money!” But that statement isn’t true. The internet has made it easy for artists and writers to share their talents globally with others, and some artists and writers have made big money off this worldwide pass-along. But that’s because their work—their free work—was transferred from one interested person to another until the interest built so large that an agent said “I can make money from this” and fame and fortune followed.

Becoming rich and famous always seems to be the drumbeat for artists and writers. But I don’t draw and paint and write to those drums. I never have. I’m happy giving away my work. (And as soon as I correct mistakes made from bad advice, my books at Amazon will be free too.) It’s my pleasure … I do what I love doing. Just as it pleases me to come to this little blog and post artwork and stories free on the internet, for everyone to share.

Backstory of Margga’s Curse [book news]

My last blog post dealt with changing the title of my e-novel Night of the Hellhounds to Margga’s Curse. As I said, the novel began forty-some years ago as a short story called “Ghost Dogs.” I was in high school and enjoyed writing fiction from the perspective of two teenage male protagonists, Lenny Stevens and Dave Evans until a creative writing teacher challenged me to write from the perspective of a teenage female protagonist. I did well on the assignment and ended up writing about a teen girl’s spooky encounter with some ghost dogs. The story began

My name is Nancy Louise Johnson. I’ll never forget the night I almost died. Vicious ghost dogs were snapping at my heels when I slipped on some gravel and fell over the steepest side of Myers Ridge.

The day began like most August days in Ridgewood, Pennsylvania: hot and humid. Every hour, the weatherman at our local radio station promised more of the same, and every hour since seven o’clock that morning my twelve-year-old sister Krissy groaned from her spot in Dad’s huge recliner. It was Friday and as usual, I was babysitting. Dad was at work and Mom and my big brother Ted were shopping in nearby New Cambridge for a new air conditioner.

Nancy is a tomboy and likes camping. Her two male friends visit and invite her to camp with them on Myers Ridge. There’s a bit of sexual tension between her and one of the boys whom she has developed a crush on, so she battles her internal voices until the ghost dogs arrive and give everyone a scare. The dogs cause Nancy to fall from the ridge. But she manages to catch herself and hold on.

For a moment, as I seemed to hang above the rocky ravine below, I knew I wanted to live. I shot out a reflexive hand and found Jerry’s sweaty shirt. I clutched shirt and skin while my legs swung wide and I hovered for a moment in midair. Behind Jerry, the swarm of will-o-wisps glowed and the pack of ghost dogs charged quick and hard at him.

“Save me,” I said before my lower body crashed against the side of the cliff. The force knocked loose my grip of Jerry. Gravity pulled me away, and I began my sudden descent to the rocky ground below.

In a flash, I thought about our lives: Dave’s and Jerry’s and mine. Death had robbed Dave and Jerry of their fathers. The accident had robbed me of the intelligent dad I once had. Although he was alive, he would never be the same. With his suffering, I didn’t want him to be without me. And I didn’t want my two best friends to be without me either. I loved them too much to die. Continue reading “Backstory of Margga’s Curse [book news]”