Tag Archives: journalist

Author Q & A

Me

As a self-published author, I am asked a lot of questions by people who are curious in one way or another.  Sometimes, they ask questions due to a desire to become published writers themselves.  But here are a lot of questions that I am asked:

What exactly is my writing background?

I am a former Marine Corps photojournalist who also wrote for the Goldsboro Times newspaper for a short time.  I published my first action thriller novel, 2018: An Uncivil War, in 2013, as well as my comedic short story, The Saint Who Stole Christmas.

What inspired me and inspires me to write and continue writing?

As a teenager, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels convinced me that writing would be in my ultimate future, though I knew not when and how.  In later life, the works of Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn reignited that passion, pushing me toward my goal of finally becoming a published novelist.

Who are my strongest writing influences?

I’ve already mentioned Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn…these guys were my strongest influences on my action thriller passion.  As for my love of horror, Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King caught my attention and studious eye.

What are my goals as a writer?

To ultimately live my dream.  Previously, it was to leave a lasting, immortal footprint in the world of literature.  Now that I have accomplished this, my next goal is to become a local celebrity in the state of Alabama, similar in manner of Kathryn Tucker Windham; though my work is more raw than hers was ever meant to be.  My final goal will be to sell enough books that I can live without ever having to work for anyone else ever again.  If I become as successful as Tom Clancy and Stephen King, that is perfectly okay too!

How often do I read, and what do I usually read?

I read frequently, often garnering knowledge and wisdom from writers who have achieved the success that I hope to someday achieve.  Right now, I am reading Stephen King’s collection of short stories, Night Shift.  I’ve also been reading the stories of H.P. Lovecraft of whom’s work I have discovered a new fascination.

How long did it take me to write my first novel, and what all was involved?

For 2018: An Uncivil War, I conducted research into the history of the American Revolution and the American Civil War.  I also poured over numerous gun rights / gun control statistics.  Various interviews had been scheduled and were conducted…all of this in an effort to make my work as realistic and authoritative as possible.  I spent approximately 9 months in the actual writing, but probably more than a year combined with all of the activities mentioned above.

What is the plot synopsis of this novel?

The start of the 2nd American Civil War dawns after the American federal government repeals the Second Amendment (right to bear arms).

How did it sell, and how do I feel about this level of success?

Initially, I had hoped that the strong feelings on the subject of gun rights and gun control would have boosted this novel into best seller status.  But I instead sold between 100 and 150 copies in print and digital formats.  It may not have been a New York Times bestseller, by any means.  But I am surprised to have sold more than just 50 copies!  I am quite pleased with the limited success in which I was blessed.

How much money do I make from my books?

The money I make from my books is certainly nothing to brag over.  Having come from virtual obscurity into the world of book publishing, one cannot expect to make very much money.  With the cost I paid to AuthorHouse to have my book released in print, I operated at a major financial loss.  The biggest gain I have received is from my loyal following of readers.  2018 is blessed with a four-star rating on Amazon and five stars on Barnes and Noble.  So I don’t need money to give me a feeling of accomplishment, though it certainly would never hurt.

What did it take to get 2018 into print?  How do I feel about the publisher?

I had to research a publisher and ended up choosing AuthorHouse.  I had to send them my cover image and book files, and they did all the rest.  The hardest part was the investment to get my work published.  That set me back between $3- and $4-thousand.

I regret the decision to publish with them, though they did an excellent job of book presentation.  I later found out that CreateSpace, through Amazon, offers just as good a product for much less money.

I heard, after the fact, that AuthorHouse exploits new writers; and now I truly believe it.

What other books written by me are available for purchase?

After publishing 2018, I wrote a short story and published it in two different editions (Children’s and Off-Color).  And I’ve been working on my second novel, a horror story called An Interstate Ghost Story: The Girl on the Highway.  Finally, I most recently released a table-top role-playing game called The Sea Dogs where you can create pirate characters and run them through adventurous sea tales.  All of this is available on Amazon.  However, 2018 is available on Barnes & Noble and the AuthorHouse website as well.

What works can readers expect from me in the near future?

I hope to release An Interstate Ghost Story within the next year or so.  However, I am taking my time with this one; attempting to make sure there is no doubt whatsoever that I will have released the best possible product of literature.  And I am also in consideration of releasing a non-fiction book.  But this I must keep under tight wraps for now.

More specifically, what can I divulge about my next work, the horror story?

When more than 30 people die in a massive, horrible accident near Montgomery, Alabama on Interstate 65, the state troopers contact a disgraced celebrity paranormal investigator named Cliff Rodger to investigate this and numerous other previous accidents.  Rumors abound that a ghost known as the Girl on the Highway may be causing most of the accidents between Montgomery and Greenville in the state of Alabama.

Am I planning to write a sequel to my first novel?

My wife is thoroughly pissed off about this, but I refuse to release a sequel until the first novel becomes successful enough to warrant it.  It isn’t because I’m being a spoiled brat throwing a childish tantrum; it’s because I will need to take a trip overseas in order to obtain the realism that I demand in my novels.

Is it true that I am having some physical problems that affect my ability to write?

I have degenerative disc disease in my cervical spine which includes spurring.  These spurs pinch and threaten to sever nerves which allow me strength and coordination in my left hand and arm.  So I now type clumsily with my left hand.  I have recently had an MRI and suspect that it is time for another spine fusion (I’ve already had one titanium plate surgically fused into my neck).

What is my biggest dream as a writer?

My biggest dream as a writer is to be able to successfully sustain the comfort, wellness, and happiness of me and my family, while writing books that the reading public will love, cherish, and remember forever.

What advice can I give to people who wish to become writers?

Don’t!  It is a very tough job filled with tons of competition, some friendly, others not so.  But for those who simply love it like I do, please feel free to contact me at phil.sanderson.writer@gmail.com for some quick free advice.

 

 

 

 

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Why So Crabby?

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What came first, crabbiness or the crabs?  

My bet would be the crabs…

After all, it stands to reason that when one has the crabs, one becomes easily excitable, very aggravated and irritated, quite grumpy, and — to say the least — extremely crabby.  This makes so much sense to me that I can only wonder if the term crabby was coined by someone who laid down with the dogs and woke up with something definitely other than fleas.  Yikes!

Let’s break down the words associated with crabby.  Dictionary.com defines the word as:  

  1. Informal. grouchy; ill-natured; irritable; peevish.
  2. (defined in the World Dictionary as:) Bad-tempered.

Now let’s look at the word crabs:  


1. 
any decapod crustacean of the suborder Brachyura, having the eyes on short stalks and a short,broad, more or less flattened body, the abdomen being small and folded under the thorax.
2. any of various other crustaceans, as the hermit crab, or other animals, as the horseshoe crab,resembling the true crabs.
3. initial capital letter Astronomy, Astrology the zodiacal constellation or sign Cancer.
4. initial capital letter Astronomy the Crab Nebula.
5. any of various mechanical contrivances for hoisting or pulling.
 
There were actually several different definitions for crabs; but I see no reason to post all of them here.  I had trouble finding the definition of crabs (the pesky kind) in the dictionary.  It is because the full name of the bothersome insect that makes people scratch their carpet and / or itching post is actually crab louse.  But, over time, people decided to just call it crabs.
 
So if we put all of this together, it is easy to see that when a person is crabby, he has pretty much the same attitude of a person who may have sat on a dirty toilet seat or slept with a dirty person.
 
I remember when I was a single, fun-loving journalist in the Marine Corps, I used to hang out with these guys who put out fires on the flight line whenever people crash landed.  They were officially known as Crash Crew Marines.  I used to drive to Greenville, North Carolina and party with them and a bunch of hot college girls (East Carolina University had a campus in Greenville; it may have been the main campus; I don’t know, I went for the girls, not the study courses).  Well one of these guys somehow got crabs.  And he passed it to everyone in that section of the dorms (units were roomed in sections with two people in each room).  When I found out about this, I avoided these guys!  They were henceforth known as Crabs Crew!
 
Thankfully, crabs can be exterminated!  So therefore, it stands to reason that crabbiness can also be exterminated.  To get rid of crabs, you have to use a special type of shampoo and other fine tuned implements (not speaking from experience or anything!).  To get rid of crabbiness, it’s not so cut and dry and involves a complete change of attitude.  
 
But here are some ways to get rid of crabbiness:
 
  1. Start trying to view the glass as half full instead of half empty.  And if you have trouble doing this, try to remind yourself that refills are free!  Some people just want to pick up the whole damn glass and throw it at the wall.  But then you have a big ole mess and nothing to drink out of!
  2. Instead of looking for reasons to be pissed off at someone, look at reasons to be happy with them.  
  3. Instead of looking for the evil in people and situations, look at the good.  
  4. Be good to yourself.  Some people spend so much time helping others and getting irritated that no one is helping them.  Go ahead and treat yourself!  If anyone deserves it, you most certainly do!
  5. Never worry!  It never does anyone any good anyway.  All it serves to do is to make a bad situation worse.  
  6. Focus on spending your energies on the things that you can control.  And pray about all the others.
  7. Organize yourself.  If something in your environment is making you crabby, then do something about it, if you can.
  8. Prioritize.  So many people lose track of what is important for the things that seem urgent but are unimportant.  Remember number 6 above at all times!  If it is not important, don’t spend so much time on it.  If you have to make a list of what is important, then do so.  The first things we need to do are the urgent, important things in our lives.  Beyond that, the important things of a routine nature should come next.  And then when we are all caught up and have completed all the important things, then is the time to consider doing the non-important items.
  9. Avoid sourpusses!  If you hang around depressed people for long enough, you are going to become depressed yourself.
  10. Set a purpose in your life!  Right now, I’m trying to finish writing a book.  Purposes give us a feeling of self-importance and something we can work toward.  
So if you ever feel crabbiness coming on, try not to scratch that itch!  
 
 
 

 

 

The Busy-ness of Writing!

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Since I was a teenager, I’ve always DREAMED of being a writer.  Little did I know just how much work was involved.  I thought to myself, after becoming a journalist:  “Certainly being a book writer can’t be much busier than this.”  Man, was I wrong!

Shortly after I got out of the Marines, I researched what it took to become an author of fiction books.  I found out that it involved sending hundreds, if not thousands, of query letters to publishers and agents in order to either secure a book deal, or at least representation for such.  But those were the old days.  

Then came the dawn of self-publishing!  

I suddenly realized it was a brave new world for anyone who wanted to make their dream come true.  Unlike regular tradition, anyone who possessed enough money for the investment could pay to have their book made into reality.  There were no letters to send out.  No one you had to impress.  

The good thing about this was obvious.  Talented writers, who had previously not received a fair opportunity, and who had a great story to tell, could now get it out there and share it with the reading public.  Unfortunately, the downside of this was that some people who had no business writing a book would put — what many avid readers would consider — complete garbage on the market.  And then you had everything in between.  Thus, readers found themselves becoming much more selective and careful when making their purchases; and they found themselves publicly sharing their opinions (via the internet mostly) freely and liberally with any who would listen.

Just when it seemed that the writing revolution had played its last card, then came the ebook revolution.  Now anyone could suddenly write a book for free!  And the same thing as above happened once again, only this time in a new electronic format.

The main thing that all of these methods of publishing have in common is the writing itself.  And, if you do this correctly, this will keep you super busy in the very beginning.  Effective writers conduct research and schedule and keep interviews with key people who can give them helpful information for the books they write.  So here you have only three vastly time consuming duties in the single duty of writing.

As for the various ways of becoming published, there are advantages and disadvantages to each avenue.  I’ve never traditionally published myself, but I’ve heard that, the advantages in this classic way of publishing far outweigh the disadvantages.   For example, most traditional publishers will pay you up front to begin writing your book.  With the investment being made on the front end, the publishers make their money as your books begin and continue to sell on the market.  If they end up receiving a return on investment, then you can almost bet they will offer you another book deal.  If not, then there is always flipping burgers or dancing topless (or maybe both simultaneously…though I would not much recommend this!).  

As for the disadvantages of traditional publishing, many stories abound about how writers suggested a certain look to their cover and were totally blown off by the production team.  It is sad there is little creative control unless it is somehow written into the contract beforehand.  

As for self-publishing, it is about totally flipped upside down as compared to traditional publishing.  No one produces your book until you pay them.  Usually they will give you a lot of leeway in creativity.  Because of the usual steep investment required in self-publishing, most companies give you a lot of creative controls for your money.  

When it comes to ebook publishing, it is basically the best of both worlds, but without the final proud moment of holding a physical book in your hand.  You have complete creative control over everything.  And it costs basically nothing other than time (unless you pay someone to design your book cover) to produce your book and publish it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and various other publishers / booksellers out there.  

The biggest thing I have discovered about both self-publishing and ebook publishing is that in the end, writing the book seemed to be the easiest aspect of the process.  The hardest part, that which I never bargained for, lay in the marketing required for making any sort of profit.  I’m totally new to the process, but I am becoming very savvy very quickly as I post constant updates on Facebook, Twitter, and other various social media websites out there.  With traditional publishing, this is one headache that many writers are thankful to avoid.  And for this, I am very jealous of them.  

Many of you probably ask:  Was it all worth it in the end?  I cannot honestly answer this, because I haven’t yet reached the end…whatever the end happens to be.  Hell, maybe I end up doing an imitation of the King of Rock and Roll and end up dying on the toilet — not exactly the end I’m wanting, but okay.  Or maybe I become the next best thing to Tom Clancy.  Now, there we go!

What I can surely tell you is that quite a bit goes into writing a book, no matter how you do it…especially if you want to make any kind of money for doing so.