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Interview with author, George WB Scott (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

GS. I’ve always written, since elementary school. I won a contest in junior high school, and have always gotten good feedback from school writing. In ninth grade I showed a girl a story I wrote for another class, and she told me I wrote well. That made a big impression.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

GS. For “I Jonathan” I have always had the idea of a man out of place, seeing a culture with “new eyes.” I built a story around the historical events, and developed people, some based on historical figures, who would act the parts. One example of a history-based character is the captain of the blockade runner. He’s based on a real person.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

GS. Oh, yes. When I can work without interruption, I’m totally in the scene. My wife makes me eat.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

GS. Yes, I’m working on a story about the Christianization of the Slavic people in Bohemia. History is pretty sketchy in that period, so the research is more based on culture, legends and traditions. It’s another clash of civilizations.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

GS. I had no direction when I went to college, and dropped out after one semester. Then I worked jobs in kitchens and landscaping for six years. One day I found myself literally digging a ditch, and realized I needed to focus. I went back to college and got a degree, and concentrated on my work, first in television news.
One job I had later involved driving a lot in the country where I listened to a station that played Country music from back in the 1950s and 1960s. This was the inspiration for a screenplay, “Big Sky Country,” written in 2001, and since then I’ve accepted that writing is something I need to do.
When my wife and I visited Charleston in 2000, I was inspired to try to build a story around what I learned about the war, and to go deeper into the “why” of the people who lived there then. I also wrote a childhood memoir in 2004, “Growing Up in Eden.”

George in the Low Country

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

GS. I think paper books will always be around. There is something tactile that is part of my reading experience. People growing up with portable electronic screens may be more comfortable with them, but I believe the printed page will always endure.

Q. What makes a writer great?

GS. I don’t know. Many of my favorite writers are not considered “great” by some, and I have no doubt that there are many, many great writers who never get published, and so will ever remain unknown.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

GS. It’s a thing you can hold. I can pick up a volume of my work and feel the weight of it, the sum of many hundreds of hours of work. But what it really means to me is a vehicle to convey ideas in a substantial form, one that takes hours to explore, and hopefully leaves the reader interested in the subjects it touches.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

GS. I could write nothing without my life experiences. Some people will like my work, and others who lived very different lives may not. A book can be a bridge of one’s experience to another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

GS. We garden when we can. We ride bikes. I like to travel, to experience new places and learn their histories. And I like movies, though in 2020 I experience them at home instead of at a theater. Hopefully that will change soon.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

GS. My screenplay was Science Fiction, and I liked that. I’ve got a mystery in mind for another year, and also a series for younger readers.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

GS. Be kinder, and forgive yourself.

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing         5 out of 5 quills  ~~  Book  Reviewreviews, authors, writing


Jodi Thomas has delivered again!  BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFE is a new series, beginning with this title.  Jodi’s writing style is consistent and reliable. That means (to her fans and new readers) that she will always deliver flawless writing and  well drawn and thoughtful characters. 

Piper Jane Mackenzie, a small town mayor and a ‘travel’in’ preacher, Sam Cassidy meet while an undercover detective Colby McBride circle the wagons to her heart; sounds like a clique, right? Nope. It turns out to be a charming story written in Jodi’s unique voice, with characters that are provocative and intriguing.  You are pulled in before you turn the first page.

I am a fan and I highly recommend this book. 

Did you miss my Interview with Jodi Thomas?

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ Fool’s Paradise

5  out  of  5 quills  ~~  Book  Reviewreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

Delicious! My favorite to date in the Jesse Stone series.  The story intertwines all of the characters in Chief Jesse Stone’s orbit and most of the characters in PI Spenser’s world in Boston. Suitcase, Molly, Jesse, Sunny, Spenser, Spike, and Vinnie Morris.  PI Sunny Randall (another series Robert B. Parker created) and Jesse have danced around each other for years but never have their stars aligned until now. This is a fascinating love/attraction sub-plot wrapped up neatly in a multi-murder plot.

Jesse Stone is back ‘on the wagon’ while he tracks down what appears to be a random homicide. AA’s motto, ‘One Day at a Time’ is particularly poignant for Jesse as he readily admits that he wants a drink every day and it’s only by sheer will power that he stays sober and makes meetings. In the Alcoholics Anonymous world we call Jesse a ‘dry drunk’. Sober but not working the steps. A recipe for failure. 

Mike Lupica, one of the most prominent sports writers in America (huh?) writes  flawlessly with Robert B. Parker’s voice. To have his stories continue posthumously is a gift. These authors, Mike Lupica, Ace Atkins, Reed Farrel Coleman, et al, have written more stories impeccably in his voice. 

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be interviewing Mr. Lupica in February!

To Purchase

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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How To Format Your (self-published) Novel

The readability of a book depends entirely on how your manuscript is formatted. Something with poor readability probably won’t sell. So if you want to go toe-to-toe with traditionally published titles, your product needs to look its best, inside and out. While cover design is critical for the reader’s first impression, interior design can’t be overlooked.

Here are 11 tips on how your self-published novel should look (in paperback).  I have recently come across a few new authors who have published new fiction and their book ended up looking very amateurish and hard to read. 

Tip #1. Beginning Pages. The important pages such as title page, dedication, and tags extracted from reviews of the book, should be assigned an ‘odd‘ numbered page. The less important content, such as Copyright Notice, a list of the author’s other books and Acknowledgements should appear on’ even‘ numbered pages.  Not to worry if you have a ‘blank’ page on the left (even numbered) opposite the title page, for example. Once your book is built, it will look normal.

Sample. Title Page: (text centered and nicely spaced on page). 

                                            Angel of Murder  (minimum of 20 pt. font)

                                               (4-5 spaces between)


                                               by   (10 pt. font)

                                       Trisha Sugarek      (12 pt. font)


        Book #4 in the World of Murder series (12 pt. font)

Tip #2. Many new authors (as I spoke of above) have neglected to have a ‘Copyright Notice’ page. This is what it looks like. It is very important as it puts all plagiarists on notice that this content is owned by you, the author.  Note: If you quote anyone in your book you should give them a line of credit.
Sample:  (Text should be centered on the page). 
                                         Notice (double space)
Copyright (c) 2020 Trisha Sugarek. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of the Author. Printed in the United States of America. For information contact author at www.writeratplay.com. The Library of Congress has catalogued the soft cover edition of this book as follows: Sugarek, Trisha, The Writer’s Journal/Trisha Sugarek – This is a journal/handbook. The suggestions and tips are solely the opinion of the author. The quotes were taken from various publications and the author takes no responsibility for the accuracy.

                                    Made in the USA ISBN-13: 9798669379384

                                    Poetry and ink drawings by Trisha Sugarek

                                   Cover and Layout Design by David White

                  To view all of the author’s fiction and play scripts go to:

Tip #3.  A quick way to see what I am describing is to pick up any novel by a known, published author and see the layout of the first few pages. For the most part Publishers use the same order and layout. ‘Acknowledgements’ (odd numbered page) can be placed in the front pages or at the end, in the back.  This is a list of people or organizations that have assisted you.

Sample: (centered text)


My friend and beta reader, Doug Johnson, whose insights, feedback and encouragement made this a better story.
My wonderful narrator/producer, Daniel Dorse, who helps me take these stories to Audio Books.
The Chatham County Coroner’s office.
And the many police and crime scene experts who share their time and knowledge so generously with me while writing this series.

Tip #4. Each chapter should be on an odd numbered page. The word ‘Chapter‘ can be used, however I’ve noticed that more and more authors are just using the number of the chapter or spelling out the number (One, Two, Three, etc). Placement is arbitrary;  I like to space down 5-7 spaces.  I use a 16-18 size font, and it should be centered. I often times use a different font style for chapter headings. Text should follow after a double space, when beginning new paragraphs.  Paragraphs shouldn’t be too long. 8,10, maximum of 12 lines is when you should begin a new paragraph. I’ve seen authors go up to as many as 22. Of course, content and a natural break also dictates a new paragraph.

Tip #5: Your contact information should never appear on the interior except if you are submitting it to a agent, publisher, etc. (That’s a whole different subject; submitting your ms.)  You can list your website address and/or your email address.

Tip #6:  Pages should be numbered and numbering should begin with the first chapter page. Pages preceding this should not be numbered. Page numbers can be created automatically by using your header or footer feature. Your name, as author, should be on each even numbered page and the title of the book should be on odd numbered pages, in the header. 

Tip #7: Separation between sentences: Single space. (I learned to type when two-spaces after each period was the rule.) One space is now the rule. 

Tip #8: Indentation of paragraphs: You can set this up using:  Home, the ‘Paragraph’ tab; the arrow to the right:   will open the menu. Alignment: Justified. Do not choose ‘left’ or ‘right’ but rather, Choose ‘Special’. Set it at ‘First line‘ 0.3 or 0.5.  Click on ‘Set As Default’ and then ‘This Document only?’  Yes.

Tip #9: Word count:  A full length novel is 80,000 and up.  A novella or cozy is approximately 37 to 40,000. 

Tip #10: If your page arrangement causes you to have a blank odd numbered page that seems awkward:  Put another title page on it.  I just finished reading a Robert B. Parker mystery where they use 3 title pages before I got to the first chapter. 

Tip #11:  Use black, 12-point, Times New Roman as the font. Single space the entire chapter. There are no double spacing between paragraphs.


My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike  Lupica
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How To Format a Novel

My helping you with formatting a novel is long over due…. It was a light bulb moment recently when I was reading a nice little story, self published (poorly) by its author, with hardly any formatting. The story wasn’t much to write home about (too predictable with poorly drawn characters.) but the lack of formatting only made it worse and an amateur effort at best.  So here are some tips about formatting your novel, before you even begin to write the story. 

Blank Templates:  Most self publishing platforms have FREE blank templates for you to begin writing on. You just pick the desired ‘size’ of your book and you can download the template to your document writing site in your computer.  Most of us use Microsoft Word for all our writings. Here is an example of how I start with a blank template.  (Why is this important? Believe me when I say at the end it will make your life so much simpler when you begin to ‘build’ your book.)

To begin:  I use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/ ) Don’t be put off by the word ‘kindle’ in the name. I build and publish all of my paperbacks here. If you don’t have an account, sign up for a FREE one. Then click on ‘HELP’.  In the search bar, I enter ‘paperback templates’. Choose #1 ‘Paperback Manuscript Templates. Follow the directions on this page.  After picking the size of your book and downloading it, your Word program should open with the blank template staring back at you.  Write a few lines (the template message will disappear) and save it as your new novel.  If you are using a different manuscript platform, I feel pretty confident that they also offer blank templates to get you started. Now you’re ready to write your story.  

Formatting:  It goes without saying you want a professional looking book. Readers unconsciously expect a certain look/layout.  Bad or nonexistent formatting can detract from the reader’s enjoyment of your book. 

But, you ask…‘I’ve already written five chapters of my novel on 8.5 x 11 paper. Can I move it?’ Easy, peasy. Use your copy and paste option (I recommend saving your original copy of the manuscript). Copy the five chapters, go over to your template and ‘paste’ the chapters in. This will mess up the formatting because your original manuscript is probably written on a larger sized paper than what your blank template is for your book. But it only takes a little time to re-format what you’ve already written. Trying to get the formatting perfect can be a form of procrastination if you’re not careful. Don’t get off into the weeds. Be certain that you are writing your story every day. Now that your novel is placed on your template, you can continue writing from where you left off.     

First Page: When you open your cover, the first page (odd numbered page) can have excerpts of reviews that you have received. Just a sentence or two, not the whole review. If you don’t have any then the first page should be the title and author name. 

Second page: (Even numbered page) This is your copyright page, entitled ‘Notice’. It can also include your ISBN number, your logo, and credits for the artwork. (See sample; All centered and a smaller font; a 9 or 10.)


Copyright (c) 2016 Trisha Sugarek. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of the Author. Printed in the United States of America. For information contact author at www.writeratplay.com. The Library of Congress has cataloged the soft cover edition of this book as follows: Sugarek, Trisha, Song of the Yukon, Trisha Sugarek – This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales in entirely coincidental.

ISBN 978-1489558206

Cover Design by David White, Illustrator

Song, ‘Swiftly I Go’ by Gary Swindell, Composer
Additional lyrics and poetry by Trisha Sugarek

To view all of the author’s play scripts and fiction go to: www.writeratplay.com

Quotes: The Best of Robert Service, Copyright 1940 by Robert Service.  Publishers: Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc.

Third page:  (Odd numbered) A dedication or a list of the other books you have written.  (See samples) It doesn’t matter which goes first but it should be on an odd numbered page.

Also by Trisha Sugarek


Women Outside the Walls
Wild Violets

The World of Murder
Art of Murder
Dance of Murder
Act of Murder
Angel of Murder
Taste of Murder
Beneath the Bridge of Murder
Video of Murder
Shadow of Murder

Butterflies and Bullets
The World of Haiku with Sumi-E Artwork
Haiku Journal — a companion book
Moths and Machetes

Available at all fine book stores.



To a hundred years of Guyer girls….
still going strong.


Headers:  Should start after these pages of notices, titles, credits, etc. On the first page of Chapter One. More later about headers. 

Each chapter:  Should always begin on an odd numbered page.  Note:  It’s perfectly acceptable for the even numbered page, opposite these odd numbered pages (that always appear on the right side) to be blank.  Most common and expected font is: 12 point Times New Roman. Spacing of lines should be 1.0 to 1.25. Indent all paragraphs by .5 inches. There are no spaces between paragraphs which should be indented 3″ to 5″ inches.  

Left margin versus Justified margin:   On the home page of Word I am certain you are familiar with the ‘alignment’ options; left, center, right, and justified.  Control (key) and the letter ‘A’ will highlight your entire manuscript. Now go to the justified button and click it. As you continue to write, your manuscript is set to ‘justified’, now.  This will space your words, across the page, so there are (for the most part) no awkward blank spaces because a word doesn’t fit.  Trust me, you will want to use the justified alignment and not the ‘left’ alignment. When there is the occasional blank space, go back and hyphenate the long word to fill these spaces.  Now, you not only have a nice clean margin on the left of your page but also on the right side of your page. (See sample. Note: I have drawn a line where there should be a word.) Look at the sample below under “Headers”.  See the crisp margin on the right. This is the result of using the ‘justified’ option.

Proof Your manuscript. Then proof it again. Don’t leave anything to chance.  The following sample is just plain sloppy proofing. The circled text should have started on the next (odd No.) page. This called for a page break.

Hard Page Breaks:  On your Word Home page find “Layout”. Click. Directly below Layout is the word: Breaks. Click for the drop down menu and chose the first choice: Page.  This sets the end of the page you’re on and designates a ‘page break’, beginning of a new page. This would have solved the above problem. Note: Be certain your cursor is at the end of the text where you desire a new page to begin. 

Headers:  Put your cursor at the top of the page of your first chapter. Double click.  The page number will automatically appear.  Place your cursor to the right of the page number and ‘space’ over to where you want to type.  The odd page should have the title of the book. You only have to type it in once; it will appear on all odd numbered pages going forward.  Now, put your cursor anywhere on the (grayed out) text of the page and click twice. Your header for odd numbered pages has been created. Now repeat the same steps for the even numbered pages:  Double click at the top of an even no. page, place your cursor to the right of the page no. Space over and type in your name as the author. Wait!  Before you leave this, be certain that you are not linking to the previous header. And leave the box unchecked for ‘Different First Page”. Click the boxes for “Different Odd and Even Pages” and “Show document text”.
What you want to achieve is no header on pages before the first page of the first chapter.  If you find you have headers go back and make certain the “Link to Previous” is not used. You may have to delete all headers and begin again, before you finally get it right. (See sample.)


Submitting your manuscript to an Agent/Publisher: Find out what the agent or publisher recommends. Some might require double spacing, for example. They publish their specs and formatting requirements right on their websites. Checking out the specs should be your first step. Adapt your manuscript for each agent or publisher (most will be remarkably similar).

I’ve tried to think of everything you might need to format your manuscript properly. It might seem a little daunting….but it’s not…once you begin these steps it will go fast and be relatively simple.  But if you get stuck, email me at trishsugar@aol.com and I’ll be happy to help.  (More) on How to Format a Novel when Self-Publishing.

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review ~~ An Unfinished Story by Boo Walker

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing                5 out of 5 quills 

Die-hard fans of Boo Walker’s Red Mountain Chronicles really wondered what Boo would write about once he left the real red mountain wine country of Washington state. He transplanted himself to Florida, of all places. Boo knows so much about wine and growing grapes that it was hard to imagine what stories would be born out of the swampy, hot days in Florida. 

Oh ye of little faith (reviewer)!  An Unfinished Story is superb!  A bitter ‘has been’ writer and a grieving widow meet by chance and form an unlikely bond. The arc of the story is unexpected and fresh.  I loved the conflict,  the set-backs, the temporary truces, the tension, and the surprises.

Of course Boo couldn’t ignore the wine running through his veins totally so his protagonist, in this story, is a wine aficionado.  I loved the ‘nod’ to the Red Mountain Chronicles! Which is a series not to be missed. 

I highly recommend this wonderful story! 

Release date August 4th. Pre-order Now!

Did you miss my Interview with Boo Walker?


My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review ~~ the Banty House by Carolyn Brown

reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing                 5 out of 5 quills                                   Book Review 

This is a newly discovered (for me) author .  And what a pleasant surprise.  If the Banty House is any indication, this prolific author gives readers hours of charming stories. 

the Banty House is a charming tale of three old ladies who take in strays, from bedraggled kittens, to damaged heroes, to homeless young women.  Betsy, Connie and Kate are real eccentric characters who you can’t help but fall in love within the first few pages. That’s all I’m going to say, as you all know I don’t write spoilers. The writing is superb and you’ll find that you can’t put the book down. I love Carolyn Brown’s style of writing and look forward to reading more….and more. 

Even though Banty House was just released there’s already another story in the pipeline, to be released in late July, Miss Janie’s Girls. Can’t wait!

Don’t miss my interview with Carolyn Brown coming in August.

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Interview with Writer for Tom Clancy, Mike Maden (Conclusion)

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MM. The first lie every writer tells themselves is this: I don’t have the time to write. The second lie is this: I can’t write. Here’s the truth: writers always write. Are you a writer? But you’re not writing? Then ask yourself this: why aren’t you writing? What are you trying to avoid by not writing? I promise you the answer is going to be some variation of abject fear. Fear of failing as a writer, of falling short of our ideal of good writing, of disappointing others, etc. In other words, it’s all about self-preservation or to be more blunt: death. Death of my ideal self, death of my status in the world as “a great writer;” some painful, shameful, hateful permutation of emotional and/or psychological destruction. Don’t believe it! Don’t define your sense of self in the world through writing. Rather, your writing is defined by your sense of self. You are not your writing. Your writing is you.

Here is the irony (and I’m stealing this from the best): if you seek to save your writer’s “life” by not doing the work in order to protect yourself, you’re going to lose the very life you’re trying to save. More simply, not writing is the death of your career. Everything you think you’re avoiding by not writing is actually going to occur when you don’t write—so write! Here’s one more tip (also stolen, in this case, from Hemingway): the first draft is always (rhymes with) “spit” so you’re only job is to “spit” out your first draft—the complete and entire first draft—and then you can fix anything later in edit, i.e., “all writing is rewriting.” If Hemingway thought his first draft was “spit” then I’m in pretty good company and so are you. I spend most of my time spitting—from an outline.

If that’s still not enough, attack the problem from the other direction. Forget yourself and simply obey the work.

Slovenia ~~ the river below the narrow trail

If you say you’re a writer then you’ve made a commitment to a “vocation” in the oldest sense of the term. Writing (truth telling, either fiction or non-fiction) is holy work; “holy” as in set apart for service. Whether or not you are religious, you committed yourself to the priesthood of Art once you said, “I am a writer.” What follows is both necessary and clear. You must recover and practice with earnest devotion the disciplines of the disciple—a follower, a student, a servant of the Work. Faith—the evidence of things hoped for, like a completed manuscript when you’re staring at the first blank page—and Love of the word are the first two hallmarks of the writer/disciple. Commitment, sacrifice, suffering…the list of the qualities of the true disciple are well known or easily discovered (e.g., the Gospels or whatever you prefer). In other words, writing is not about “you” it’s about answering the call, to saying “yes” when summoned and exerting inexhaustible effort toward the completion of the task, denying self and even other people and all other things that distract or dissuade you from your mission. “Not my will, but Thine.” If you happen to be a person of true religious faith, then your discipleship is twofold: obedience to the One who calls and fulfilling that call through the faithful exercise of the gift that the One has given you.

If all of that is too abstract then here’s the most practical advice I can give you: do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. Study it, memorize it. Let it be your missal. Then get your derriere in the chair—and write!

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MM. Characters are all that matter. Situations, scenes, plots, actions…it all comes out of character choices, character collisions, character flaws, character construction.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. I start with a solid outline so I always have those touch points that keep me on the path from A to Z. But if I’m really writing—really doing it the way it’s meant to be done—I get completely carried away in the moment, plunging headlong into the river, carried along by the surging rapids.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

MM. Yes. Can’t. Top secret. But it’s gonna be awesome and my first collaborative effort. News coming soon.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I’ve always written seriously beginning with my academic, non-fiction writing. What surprised me was to find out I was actually a writer. Yes, I could write. But I never thought of myself as a writer because of the mystery that surrounded that term. I was forty years old before I gave myself permission to call myself one. And what really surprised me was that I could write fiction. I was utterly stunned to discover I could write a screenplay but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I could never write a novel. Until I did. But one novel was it. Finito. No way could I do another even though I’d just signed a two-book deal. I knew I couldn’t write the sequel. Until I did. And another two-book contract showed up. And then I knew the game was up. My publisher would finally realize their big mistake. Until I finished those up too. And then…well, I think you get the idea. A serious writer writes. And writes. And writes. It’s hard work. Really hard. And it only gets harder—but only if you’re doing it right.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

MM. Absolutely not. They may become rare or expensive but they will never disappear. For people of a certain age, ahem, me, the tactile nature of the printed page never ceases to amaze or comfort.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. All writers are great but only if they write. The act of writing—of completing the work—is an act of obedience unto the Muse. It is our offering on the altar. The mere doing of it is its own reward. Whether or not the work will be judged as “great” by history or the literati or the New York Times bestseller list is completely outside the control of the writer. We can’t choose to be “great” but we can choose to do the work. Tell the truth, be yourself (i.e., original) and do the work—the rest will follow whether you like the outcome or not.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MM. Get a bucket. Fill it with kerosene. Carry it to the top of a ten-story building. Stick your head in the bucket. Light your head on fire. Throw yourself off the roof. Hit the pavement. Douse the flames. Type, “end of chapter one.” Do it again. Sixty-five more times. Now you know what it feels like to go from “no book” to “finished book.” Easy as pie. Or as some wag said, just open up a vein and bleed onto the page.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. Everything. You write out of your life.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. Reading. Watching the best film and television I can. Hanging out with my best friend (my wife). Exercise. Golf. Guns. Hiking.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MM. I wish I was smart enough to write science fiction.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MM. General life lesson: “Discipline Equals Freedom.” (Jocko Willink)
General writing life lesson: “The bad news is, the Problem is Hell. The good news is, it’s just a problem. The Problem is not us. The PROBLEM is the problem. Work the Problem.” (Steven Pressfield)

PS. (from Mike Maden)  My Clancy novel ENEMY CONTACT was set in Poland. Amazing history, culture, people…and food. We love travel and learning new things but unfortunately it also means encountering the human condition in its worst permutation. Auschwitz is one such place and of all of the things that wounded me in that terrible place nothing grabbed me more than this moment. Those red shoes took me to a very dark moment. I could just see a young woman picking them out of the shop window one bright sunny morning, so happy and proud of them…having no idea where they would one day take her.

Did you miss Part I and Part 2 of this fascinating interview?

Book Review of Firing Point


My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
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Interview with Mike Maden, writing for Tom Clancy

Mike Maden grew up working in the canneries, feed mills and slaughterhouses of California’s San Joaquin Valley. A lifelong fascination with history and warfare ultimately lead to a Ph.D. in political science focused on conflict and technology in international relations. Like millions of others, he first became a Tom Clancy fan after reading THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and began his published fiction career in the same techno-thriller genre, starting with DRONE and the sequels, BLUE WARRIOR, DRONE COMMAND and DRONE THREAT. Mike’s fourth Tom Clancy novel, FIRING POINT, featuring Jack Ryan Jr., was released June 9th.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

MM. My office is a converted screened-in porch with a stunning view of the Smoky Mountains. We put in a giant plate glass window to capture that view and it’s a constant source of both inspiration and distraction for me as the seasons unfold before my eyes. I split my time equally between a sitting and a standing desk.

Witness the distractions (actual photos from my office/deck. My desk (seldom this uncluttered while working. My “stand up” desk (notice the hand crank). A gift from my wife after publishing my second book:

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MM. Gallons of coffee and a workout at the gym (in that order) are my first morning rituals. I usually arrive at the desk late mornings where I begin the writing day with meditation and journaling. And coffee. Always more coffee. This period of time is always my least productive in terms of word count but absolutely necessary for my process. After lunch I crank out a few more words and often crash into a power nap and then really get rolling on the word count. The late evening is when the afterburners kick in; I’ve kept track of my word counts and writing times over the years and invariably 60% of my work occurs during this later period. I strongly urge all writers but particularly new ones to track their word counts. You might be surprised that your best writing doesn’t occur at either the time or place you assumed. All of us, including full-time writers, simply don’t have enough time to do everything that needs to be done. So if you are particularly time-challenged—balancing career, family, and other responsibilities against your writing time—then being as efficient as possible is absolutely necessary. Nearly every book on creativity will tell you that early mornings right after you wake up is your most creative time and many writers will tell you that they fall out of bed and onto the typewriter even before they have their first cup of coffee or tea. I’m here to tell you, that ain’t me and I have the stats to back it up. So take a week and assiduously track your writing hour-by-hour and find out when you are at your personal best as a writer and ruthlessly schedule yourself accordingly.

Q. How do you ‘get inside’ Tom Clancy’s head and write for him?

MM. The day I got the call from the series editor, Tom Colgan, and was offered the position was both the best and most terrifying day of my literary life. I’ve been a fan of Tom Clancy’s ever since I read THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. He was a giant and, in my opinion, single-handedly invented the techno-thriller genre, or at least the one we’re all familiar with. What an honor to be asked to join The Campus…but what a responsibility! It was as if Queen Elizabeth had called me up and asked me to add a play or two to Shakespeare’s First Folio. What to do? I was already writing in the genre that Tom Clancy had invented which meant I pretty much had to accept the offer, right? Otherwise, time to hang up my spurs. Except…I did have one pre-condition in my mind that would kill the deal: if I was asked to imitate Tom Clancy’s voice. It’s a huge mistake for anybody to try and imitate a wholly original voice because it simply can’t be done well and I was incredibly relieved to hear Tom Colgan warn me against trying to do so before I even had the chance to ask. This showed me that both Tom Colgan and the Clancy Estate knew exactly how to approach the problem of inviting writers into the Clancy world. I was told in no uncertain terms to write in my own voice and in my own style and I think that’s why all of the other Clancy writers have done such a great job over the years as well.

Q. Do you find your ‘voice’ creeping in when writing for another author?

MM. Absolutely—see above! The single most difficult but most necessary task of an author is to find their own unique voice. The only original thing we have to offer the world is our unique selves; the words we all use are the same, aren’t they? Have you ever read someone slavishly imitating the style of another writer? Yuck. It smacks of artifice and desperation—the act of someone utterly lacking in confidence and originality. We love writers who are original which is another way of saying that they are being their true selves on the page. There are, of course, rules—precious few, mind you—in the Clancyverse that I must obey (e.g., no one in the world recognizes Jack Ryan Junior as the son of President Jack Ryan Senior). But so long as I stay within the guardrails, I’m free to drive as fast and as violently as I care to.
And I do.

Tune in for part 2 of our chat with Mike Maden, June 19th 

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
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The Goodbye Man by Jeffery Deaver ~~ Book Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Book Review reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

Most people, who have not been seduced into a cult, are fascinated by them. For example, I find it hard to imagine subjugating myself totally to a ‘family’, a group, a commune of people with one belief. Coming under the spell of one person (usually a man) who preaches whatever just to lure you in. To give up all my worldly possessions, including money (first red flag) and surrendering my mind and soul. 

But death, grief, depression, tragedy, desperation can and does drive thousands of people to hundreds of cults across this country. The Goodbye Man takes the reader into a fictional cult who promises immortality.  Jeffery Deaver weaves a wonderful story with a plot that twists and turns with regularity. He writes with a flare that is slightly scary and causes a pit of fear in the bottom of the reader’s stomach. 

The irony, for me, was I kept seeing Donald Trump in the Deaver’s character, Master Eli (the Leader). The cadence of Eli’s speech, the repetition of certain words, (‘gorgeous’, ‘the best ever’, ‘the best in his class’, etc.) and the lies that no one could fact-check.  When a cult expert was consulted (in the story) they listed the narcissist traits in cult leaders and really!… Donald Trump was all over the page. The parallels were so starkly drawn for this reviewer, I couldn’t help but comment on it. 

Cult Leader                                            Donald Trump
all consuming ego                               all consuming ego
attacks his enemies                              attacks his enemies
lashes out in anger                                lashes out in anger
an absolute belief that he’s always    an absolute belief that he’s always right
won’t listen to advice or criticism      won’t listen to advice or criticism
paranoid                                                  paranoid
craves worship and adulation            craves worship and adulation

and…sorry, America but….43% of you are in the biggest cult existing in modern history.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and highly recommend it.  


Did you miss my Interview with Jeffery Deaver?

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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