#ASI: LD Schuhwerk

Hi L D Schuhwerk, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a Middle School Visual Art teacher aspiring to become a best selling author. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art and a Master’s Degree in Art Education. I have always loved writing since I was young and just recently decided to take the plunge into writing novels.

 

Discuss your newest book.

Breaking Into Light is my debut novel. It is the story of a young girl, Riley, coming to terms with a past filled with violence and trauma. The book is written in several character points of view to offer readers varying perspectives as Riley’s story unfolds. Intriguing!

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Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have always had an interest in poetry so I began writing at a very young age, submitting poems in contests, literary journals and other capacities. While I had a few successes in this capacity as a writer, being published in several literary journals, I felt I could do more so I put my efforts into writing novels.

 

What are your current projects?

I love reading book series so that is my newest goal. I have just started on the first novel in a trilogy, The Faint and Hallow Series. This project is geared toward a young adult audience and unlike my first novel will be a fantasy series following several characters. Sorry, I can’t reveal too much right now because I am still writing! Can’t wait.

 

What books have most influenced your life most?

I think one of the books that pulled me back into reading as a young adult was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Her writing was very poetic and attracted me to the story instantly. Since that book, I have become a voracious reader and often read several books a week (more during school breaks, less during parent teacher conferences!)

 

What inspired you to write your first book?

It’s funny, I actually started writing a book years ago but never could get past the first few chapters. When I decided to abandon that story and came up with Riley’s character, the story just came out. So Riley, the main character in Breaking Into Light was the true inspiration.

 

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Riley is one of those characters that is revealed in layers. She is resilient in the face of tragedy, kind, lovable, independent and fierce in her love and protection toward those she loves.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message I hope others can gain is that even when we feel that we have reached our lowest point in life, even when we feel overwhelmed with grief, there is hope. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, even when we can’t see that reason through the darkness, and unless we give our life a chance to come full circle, we cannot know what the universe has in store for us.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

This is a tough one! I think Alexis Bledel could be a good choice if her hair was grown out and made darker for the role. She gives off a vibe that makes you want to protect her, a sort of innocence that I think would be important for Riley’s character to portray. More old school Gilmore Girl, I like it.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always considered myself a writer of sorts so it wasn’t that I just woke up one day and thought…I’m going to become a writer! It’s always been a part of my makeup.

Why do you write?

Words are powerful and I love being able to put together a beautiful sentence that might resonate with someone.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I wanted to do more than poetry so I developed a character in my mind over the course of a few days, writing on napkins, on my phone and anywhere else I could jot down my ideas then took those notes to start the story.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Right now, I am a part-time writer as I currently teach full time.   #TeachersWriteon

What is the hardest thing about writing?

I think perhaps the hardest part for me is developing the outline of a story. I have no problem developing characters, but finding those stories within each character is challenging.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Editing! I have a hard time letting go of some parts of the story when I’m editing.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Developing characters. I love creating their personalities and traits.

 

What book are you reading now?

I just finished The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine. It was an interesting take on the Snow White fable and was pretty enjoyable. I haven’t determined my next book yet. I tend to download several samples, read them all and then decide which one to read next.

 

What is one random thing about you?

I have pretty bad stage fright. I do not like being the center of attention so whenever I am required to speak to an audience, I am super nervous, sweaty palms and all!

 

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?

Mostly, I write on my laptop but if inspiration strikes and I am not near my computer, I will write on my phone, a napkin, anything that I can grab quickly and get my idea out.

 

What does your writing process look like?

I usually start with creating a main character that I can center a story around and then let the story unfold. I really love going on the journey with the character and at times am even surprised by where the story takes me.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I don’t know how strange it is but sometimes I will wake up from a dead sleep with an idea and will have to grab my phone to put the idea into my notes.

How important are names to you in your books?

I spend a ridiculous amount of time coming up with names for my characters. I will waste hours on the process…it’s a bit of an obsession.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Again, I think the most challenging aspect is editing. I become very attached to the story and don’t always like letting parts go even when it helps the story.

 

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

Being a newly published author, I’m still navigating the marketing aspects of getting my book out there. So for now, I will just have to keep you posted!

 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” ~ Jack Kerouac On The Road

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Again, I would have to say The Red Tent because it got me back into reading.

 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you have an idea, don’t make excuses or worry about editing until you get the story out. Write, write, write and then worry about the rest later.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

If I’m not teaching or writing, I love reading, spending time with family and friends and creating artwork, photography, painting, printmaking, really any type of art.

 

From where do you gain your inspiration?

Other writers, poets and novelists have always inspired me.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I would say the main advantage is having control over the entire process from editing to publication. The disadvantage I have found is getting word out about your book. It takes time and commitment to market a book and for those of us who have full time jobs, it can often be overwhelming.

How do you market your books?

Currently, I use Facebook to spread the word and choose to use Amazon’s book promotion tools occasionally.

Why did you choose this route?

It’s both easy to navigate and is not too pricey.

Would you or do you use a PR agency?

I do not currently use a PR Agency nor do I plan to in the near future.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

Do what feels right to you and your book. There is no clear answer here.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Honestly, I spend more time than I would like to. In a perfect world, I would be using that time to write but it is a necessary evil. So I would say I spend a few hours a week, more when I have time off of teaching.

What do you do to get book reviews?

I ask on Facebook as well as during free book promotions.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

It could be better!

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?

No I am still a newbie and welcome suggestions!

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I take reviews seriously. If readers feel something is lacking in my book, I will spend time reflecting on and improving the book. Breaking Into Light is in its second edition due to this process.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?

Not yet!

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

I think social media marketing can have a huge impact on gaining an audience. Let’s face it, we are all obsessed with our smartphones, so why not tap into that obsession?

Which social network worked best for you?

I think Facebook has given me a wider audience though I must admit I am terrible with Twitter so I haven’t tested them against each other that thoroughly.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do?

I read a few articles about marketing on social media and the thing that kept coming up was to add content that has nothing to do with your book. There are only so many times people want to see “Read My Book” once they have started following your page.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?

I have not used these promotions, just Facebook and Amazon so far.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

I would love to meet Elizabeth Bishop…I lover her work and think she would be an inspiration to have a conversation with.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

This is another tough one but I would say Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The story has so many passages with deep meaning and the characters are so intriguing.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed with the idea of writing a novel. If you have a story or character in mind, just write and keep writing. If you get stuck, stop for a while and read. Reading inspires and can get you out of a slump!

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Readers can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/LDSchuhwerkAuthor/ and can visit my website at http://ldschuhwerk.weebly.com/

#ASI: David Coons

Quickly I would like to apologize for the misspelling that has now been corrected!

Hi David Coons, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? First off I have to say, best author photo I have ever seen!

Hi, and thank you for the opportunity to do one of the things that I love: talking about myself. First off, I am originally from a small town in Idaho, but now live in San Diego, Ca. I am a military veteran (Go Navy!) and I love all things horror. I would say more here, but I have a feeling we will be getting to a lot of that during this interview. Anchors Away!

Discuss your newest book.

My newest book right now is Chaplain. It is only my second completed work, but hopefully 2016 will not pass us by without one – maybe two – more books being released. Chaplain is a tale set during the American Civil War and it follows a boy named Winny who gets captured by Confederates fleeing the battlefield at Gettysburg. Of course, this being horror, that kidnapping quickly becomes the least of his worries.

Dav2

 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Not exactly, for I was very young. I have had a passion for writing since I was a kid and often found myself writing small little stories here and there. I often joke that the only homework assignments I ever completed in high school were for my creative writing class. Speaking of class, one of the first stories I can recall was for a class project way back in elementary school. We had to write a story – any story – based on Madeleine L’Engel’s A Wrinkle In Time, so I wrote a story about Indiana Jones traveling through the Tesseract. I’m sure if I was able to read that story today, I would laugh at how awful it was, but I’m still proud of myself for trying.

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on two projects. One is planned to be another novella, though it could easily grow beyond that. That one is set in the art world and was thought up after I was dragged to an art show. The other one I have actually been working on since I released By The Hour, which was over a year ago. I’m about 70% done with the rough draft and it is shaping up to be an epic length novel. This story idea is one that I have been fostering for over ten years, but was never sure exactly how to write it and hadn’t yet gotten my motivation to seriously try. I’m hoping to get it out by the end of the year, so keep an eye out for it. It’s called Sixteen Years Ago and I believe it’s going to be one helluva good read.

What books have most influenced your life most?

So many books; so many authors. I have read everything from Tom Clancy to Stephen King to many small independents. A lot of action and a lot of horror. Definitely my two favorite genres. Early on, in the 90s, it was more on the action side, but more on the horror side since then. It would be hard for me to say that any one book had a profound impact on my life, though when asked, I’d name a few that have most made me want to become a writer. Stephen King’s The Stand immediately comes to mind. Several books from David Hagberg got my engines fired up early in life, as well. One called The Swarm by Frank Schatzing – originally written in German – caught me by surprise while I was on a ship in the Persian Gulf. That is a novel that I often think of when people talk about “the best.” More recently I have been hugely inspired by the Infected trilogy from Scott Sigler as well as the Pine Deep trilogy from Jonathon Maberry. Both are excellent reads if you are into horror.

What inspired you to write your first book?

This question would be more accurately phrased as: What finally got you off your butt and inspired you to write something!? First off, I think part of what was holding me back was the intimidation factor. Writing a long novel is no easy feat; getting it published even less so. Most of the stories in my head tended to be of the longer variety (hence the Sixteen Years Ago mention above) and I was feeling overwhelmed before I had even began. Then, one day I was randomly clicking through Amazon and I came across an author named Matt Shaw who had these black cover books with all sorts of enticing warnings on them. “Contains extreme horror, sex, and gore,” for one. I decided to give a couple of his books a try and I was impressed. The stories were good and his warnings were definitely well-founded, but what really got me was the fact that these novels were fairly short – around 150 pages – and they were published independently without any nods, welcomes, or financing from the big publishing institutions. I began investigating the Amazon KDP platform and I quickly realized that one of my biggest fears (finding somebody willing to publish) was no longer a concern. That, and after using Mr. Shaw as a springboard to many other independent horror writers, I established that shorter stories like novellas and novelettes were selling fairly well and were perfectly acceptable for a platform like Amazon. All of this knowledge was what finally overcame my fears and prompted me to put that first word on the page.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

For the first book, By The Hour, the main character is a man named Michael Gorman. Initially, he’s just a normal guy. He likes to party and have a good time. Of course, as you read on, you realize that he also has other desires. Dark ones.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is, but I’m pretty sure that message is obvious by the time they reach the end.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

For Chaplain, the main character is a nine year old boy, so I don’t have any ideas who would play him. Hollywood has been pretty good at casting child actors recently, so I am sure they would do a fine job selecting somebody. For the title character, however, I can see Max von Sydow killing that role.

Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I love entertainment; whether it be movies, television, or books. I have always felt that I would be good at entertaining and have held a burning passion to do just that. There are so many stories in my head that I feel the need to share.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Definitely part-time, for now. I still have a day job that eats a lot of writing time, whether it be time spent at work or just a tired state afterwards. I like to write when my mind is at its best and I find that difficult on most work days. I am due for a career change in about five years, though, so if any of my stuff starts taking off, maybe I’ll be able to begin dedicating much more time to the craft.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Getting over your own self-criticism. I like to do everything right the first time. I find that I’ll fight myself over things; simple things. Sometimes as simple as the use of a certain phrase and it’ll quickly eat up time and motivation. Especially the motivation part; once that starts to wane, everything can quickly come apart on you. I keep hearing that I should just get the ideas down on paper and worry about the editing later. Great advice, but hard for me to follow. Of course, no matter how well I think I have done at the end of the day, I’ll look over those words later and find mistakes. There really is no such thing as a perfect first draft, no matter how hard you try. Don’t you just hate it when yourself gets in the way of your writing? I know I do.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The hardest thing about writing Chaplain was having to constantly stop and fact check things about the Civil War era. Small, menial things like: What kind of oil did they use in their oil lamps? What kind of tools did the army medics have? I am by no means a Civil War expert and I had to do a lot of lookups to try to minimize the inaccuracies. I’ll admit that it is probably not perfect, but I’d like to think that it’s more than adequate for a fun horror novella. The Devil’s in the details.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Coming up with overarching story ideas. The details to make it work are definitely harder, but generalized story ideas seemingly hit me daily.

What book are you reading now?

I am currently reading John Connolly’s A Song of Shadows. I’ve been reading him for over a decade now. I love his work. His main book series, the Charlie Parker books, are mostly realistic mysteries with small dabs of the supernatural sprinkled in. His other books pull a 180 on you, though. Read The Gates and you’ll see that he can write with an incredible wit as well.

What is one random thing about you?

I love Heavy Metal music. So much so, that I always capitalize Heavy Metal when I write it, even though that is technically incorrect. However, that alone is not my random fact. My random fact is that – like even the most blood-gushing, hellraising Metal musicians out there – I have cats that I absolutely adore. Aww…a softie at heart. I won’t tell. 😉

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?

My handwriting is atrocious! So, I am definitely a computer guy. As far as tablets go, I wrote the first few chapters of Sixteen Years Ago on my iPad. I eventually switched back to a full computer, because I just don’t like typing on those little Bluetooth keyboards that tablets use. And their on-screen keyboards? Most definitely not. Lol I know the feeling.

What does your writing process look like?

I generally write in the morning. I’ll wake up, grab something caffeinated, and check my email and Facebook. I’ll take about five minutes to gather my thoughts and notes, and then I dig in. Some mornings, I will only manage about 500 words; but others I can sometimes hit 5,000.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

Nothing too strange. If I am actively writing and I get stuck on something, I’ll take a break on my porch for a few minutes and enjoy the fresh air while letting my mind wander. If I’m between writing sessions, I love to plan my next moves while on the move. Mainly walking. I received a Fitbit for Christmas and I have hit five miles almost every day since. Walking in the cool, night air – Heavy Metal pumping in the earphones – allows my mind to be free and lets me connect the dots for an upcoming scene. Cool.

How important are names to you in your books?

Some are very important. Main characters, mostly. Especially the villains. For instance, when I came up with the idea for Sixteen Years Ago all those years ago, I instantly had the name for the main character jump into my mind. I have thought about changing that name many times since then, but I haven’t been able to. That’s his name! A lot of supporting characters are not as important. I just try to keep the names from being too similar, so that way the read will be less confusing.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

When I have a bad day of writing and I look back on my work to see that the words just aren’t flowing. They feel forced or inadequate. Motivating myself to revisit that section later for a rewrite is hard for me. I am not a fan of the editing process.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

I haven’t been marketing long enough to have really learned any hard lessons. I also haven’t stretched myself too far in getting my books marketed. Not yet, anyway. Once I finally release Sixteen Years Ago, I plan on marketing the hell out of that. While novellas and novelettes are perfectly viable forms of writing these days, novels still sell far better, so I am holding off on any intense – and expensive – marketing campaigns until that book’s release. When I begin to go down that road, however, I am sure I will start learning many hard lessons and will be able to answer this question much more thoroughly.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

There’s a line from a song called “Deadly Sinners” by a Metal band named 3 Inches of Blood. The line is: “Enemies of Metal, your death is our reward.” Now, while that doesn’t sound very motivational, I have always taken an inspirational meaning from it. Since the first time I ever heard it, I have always taken that line to mean that you should do what you want to do – write, play, or listen to whatever you want to – while not letting the judgement of others influence or deter you. I know that my stories aren’t for everyone, just like my choice of music is not liked by most, but I will never let that stop me from writing the stories I want to write or listening to the music I want to listen to. I can see that from the lyrics and it is good advice. I honestly think heavy metal can get a bad rap.

What is your favorite book and why?

I honestly cannot answer this. There are so many books that I love. One that I didn’t mention above is a book called Society of the Mind by Eric L. Harry. As far as I can tell, this author hasn’t written anything in over a decade, but when he did, he wrote mostly military-themed novels. Society of the Mind, however, was completely different. That book was a well-written science fiction tale about the dangers of artificial intelligence and the human response to that intelligence, which has the potential to be far different from our own type of intelligence. I haven’t read that book in many years, but I have been intending to read it again. In fact, I was in high school when I read it and I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I lent my copy to my English teacher at the time. She was a great teacher and a huge inspiration to me. If she ever reads this, I’m sure she’ll know this is directed at her. Anyway, to sum up my point, she loved it as well. #Power2theTeachers!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Start writing now! There has never been a better time for writers than now with all of the options available to get your work out to the masses.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

We’ve already established I like listening to Heavy Metal music, so need to go into that further. I love movies of all types, though cheesy horror (never better than in the 80s) has always been my guilty pleasure. I own over 1,000 DVDs and more than 300 Blu-rays. And that’s with me not having purchased more than a dozen in the last four years. I also am a huge fan of NFL football. Go Dolphins! That is a lot of movies! I’m a Packer fan, living with Chiefs fans…

From where do you gain your inspiration?

All the above really. Movies, music, and other books. Of course, life experiences of all varieties come into play, as they do with every author. Luckily, for the most part, my life experiences are far different than those of my characters.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Self-publishing Advantages: 1) Freedom to write what you want. 2) The ease of getting your work out to readers for them to enjoy.

Professional Publishing Advantages: 1) The potential to reach a much larger audience. With the marketing of the large companies and their relationships with multiple booksellers around the world, far more people are likely to read your work.

How do you market your books?

Self-Publishing. Currently, my books are only available on Amazon, but I will most likely expand to other markets with Sixteen Years Ago.

Why did you choose this route?

The ease of the process and the surety that my work will be available to anybody that wants to read it. It’s a great place to start and if it someday leads to a contract with a professional publisher, I will be okay with that too.

Would you or do you use a PR agency?

I do not. Maybe someday in the future, but for now, I have no plans to do so.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

If you’re just starting out, don’t overlook the value of Facebook. Create a Facebook author page and start an ad campaign with it. It’s a relatively cheap way of attracting readers. Just be sure to have an enticing ad that will get people’s attention as their hurriedly scrolling down their news feed.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

My writing time and my marketing time are usually separate. I do most of my writing in the morning and most of my advertising in the evening. By advertising, I mostly mean checking on the ads that I already have out there, and seeing if any improvements can be made. Also, I try to post something on my Facebook Author page daily, or at least a few times a week.

What do you do to get book reviews?

I put reminders out on my various author pages encouraging people to review my books. Other than that, I just try to attract more readers. More readers = more reviews.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

Not very. I assume people just don’t want to take the time to leave a written review. I can’t blame them; I haven’t left a lot of reviews myself. I am starting to take the time to leave more reviews on independently-published books, now that I understand the struggle.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?

Not really. I have researched various book reviewer sites online, but it seems that most of them have a backlog of submissions more than a year long.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Obviously, I love getting a good review. I have received one mediocre review on Amazon.uk that I think is unjustified, but that’s part of the game. If I get bad reviews, I plan on using their criticism to learn and hopefully make my future works better.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?

Not yet, but I’m hoping for lots of funny stories dealing with marketing. Ideally, good stories about how marketing worked for me, but good stories can be funny too.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

I think social media is one of the best – and most inexpensive – ways for young authors to start building a following. I highly recommend it. Plus, it can be a fun way to interact with your fans

Which social network worked best for you?

I’ve only used Facebook for the most part, though I will soon be expanding to other networks. You can never have too many followers.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do?

Read through this interview and I have given lots of tips.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?

I have not yet, but I plan to with my next releases. I have been building up my page on Goodreads and will be heavily utilizing it for my next release.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

So many…Everybody from the pharaohs of Egypt to Kurt Cobain. There is so much to learn and so much curiosity to be sated. And those are just the dead ones. For the living, any of the authors I have mentioned. I feel that I could learn a lot about the craft from them.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

Probably The Stand. That is such an epic novel and I love epics.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read this interview and get motivated!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

The number one source is my Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/davidcoonsauthor/ . I am frequently posting updates on there and I am always willing to answer any questions the fans may have.

Also, my Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/David-Coons/e/B00SUS44EM

And Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/DavidWCoonsJr

Seperation of Home and Work

I have noticed that a lot of employers are keeping tabs on their workers through their social media pages. My question is WHY? Social media is outside of work, not on work property. What they do or say on the internet outside of work should not have any consequences at their job. It is probably because of my stance on this that I don’t have a job and that is stupid. My aunt has friends at work that she likes to talk to but is too afraid to add them to her Facebook page simply because some have their bosses as friends and she doesn’t want to lose her job.

How is it possible that people can be fired just because of their social media posts? If they go to work, and do their jobs well why should it matter what they do on Facebook? What kind of things they tweet about? Because it reflects poorly on the company? Honestly, who DOESN’t complain about their job? Not one person has a perfect job that they love all the time, so of course, if they had a bad day they might go vent about it on Facebook or in their blog. They shouldn’t be punished at work for how they feel. Now I don’t think that they should or do write bad things about their jobs or coworkers intentionally to start crap.

The whole point of this was, I found an article where a substitute teacher was fired from a Catholic school for announcing his upcoming wedding on Facebook. The simple fact that he is gay and publicly announced his wedding through social media, got him fired. He even said that everybody already KNEW he was gay before the announcement, but they fired him anyway. It is stupid and I think shouldn’t have happened. If it was any other straight person, it never would have happened. Social media should stay at home and have no repercussions at work.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/14/lonnie-billiard_n_6472566.html