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“Remember, when you pitch an investor to finance a film, you’re selling something different. You’re selling the magic and the sizzle of Hollywood and most importantly, you’re selling yourself along with the upside (or fallacy) of what their investment might return. If someone is really in the position to write a check to finance a film, they’re probably pretty savvy. Trust me, they have been pitched everything from financing movies, to night clubs, clothing lines and widgets by someone a lot slicker and more qualified than you. Investors know they hold the key to unlocking the door to the dreams that can change your life, so go deep in thought when creating a presentation…because you’re pitching them on a fantasy (smoke and mirrors), not real estate or something they can look, touch or feel at the moment.”

From What You Don’t Learn in Film School by Shane Stanley

Shane Stanley

Multi-Emmy Award winning filmmaker Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set starting with hit shows like “Entertainment Tonight” and “Seinfeld.”

Along with his father, Stanley produced “The Desperate Passage Series,” which was nominated for 33 individual Emmy Awards and won 13 statues. In this series, five of the seven specials went No.1 in Nielson Ratings, which included “A Time for Life” and “Gridiron Gang.”

Stanley has produced films starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei and Martin Sheen. He co-wrote two of the films and has worked closely with top Hollywood executives.

Stanley has taught workshops at many film schools and universities. He is the founder of Visual Arts Entertainment, a production company based in Los Angeles. He is still active in teaching, working with several schools, film students, and recent grads as a mentor and guide.

His latest book is What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to Independent Filmmaking.

What You Don't Learn in Film School

Book Description:

Multi Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Shane Stanley, a lifelong entertainment industry insider, has worked in every aspect of the film industry, covering a multitude of movies, television shows, and other projects. In his valuable new book, WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING, Stanley takes a candid look at the film business and offers ambitious young filmmakers important information on how to navigate every aspect of making movies, from initial pitch to distributing a finished product. The book “is written for anyone who hopes to have a career in the industry at any position, but (is) geared for (the) total filmmaker,” Stanley says.

Producer Neal H. Moritz (“Fast & Furious,” “S.W.A.T.,” “21 and 22 Jump Street”), says that WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL “pulls no punches. It’s one of the most insightful and accurate books ever written on the subject, a master class bridging the gap between school and real-life experience that will save you years of heartache. A must-read for anyone interested in pursuing a career in film.”

Jane Seymour, two-time Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner, actress, producer and founder of the Open Hearts Foundation, declares that Stanley’s “step-by-step guide is a must-read for anyone hoping to break into the world of independent cinema, along with many useful tips for those who desire to work within a studio or network system.”

Jeff Sagansky, former president of Sony Entertainment and CBS Entertainment, notes that “Shane Stanley takes you to a film school that only years of practical experience can teach. He covers both the business of independent filmmaking as well as the hard-earned secrets of a successful production. A must-read for anyone who wants to produce.”

A lifelong veteran of the film world, Stanley has directed and produced hundreds of film and television projects, including the 2006 No. 1 Box Office hit “Gridiron Gang,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His clearly-written guide to navigating the shoals of independent filmmaking comes from his hands-on experience, covering such topics as choosing what material to produce, raising independent capital, hiring a production crew and selecting the right cast.

WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL is an essential book written by someone who clearly understands the independent film business from the inside

Interview:

Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started as a filmmaker?

Shane: I grew up in and around the industry. My father was a working actor and when I was about 9 months old, he started peddling me out as the baby-for-hire to his friends and colleagues whenever they needed an infant for a project. My career in front of the camera lasted until I was about five. My father had made the transition from acting into filmmaking and I was fascinated with the whole ‘concept to delivery’ process of how a project could go from an idea scribbled on a note pad into becoming a completed film. I was a quick study and learned how to operate a flatbed Steenbeck and Moviola (old-school edit machines), Arri 16mm cameras and all the toys that came with making movies. I started working in our family’s production company doing whatever I could to help. Back then our budgets were meager, so we had to wear many hats in order to get the films made. Before I graduated high school, I had years under my belt as a camera operator, editor, writer, production supervisor and post-production coordinator. I also landed a lot of product placement for our shows and negotiated crew and talent contracts so by the time I started my own company I had a basic idea of what it took to produce a picture.

What is one thing you would tell up and coming filmmakers to prepare themselves for the crazy world of filmmaking?

Shane: Fail and fail often. Today technology allows you to be a filmmaker with just a cell phone and a laptop. On the other hand I think people are too often afraid to learn by trial and error. This gift of technology allows you the freedom to discover who you are as a storyteller and it doesn’t cost anything. Go out and shoot as much as you can and learn what works and what doesn’t – and why – so you can build from your mistakes and hone your craft to becoming the best you can be. Read what you can about the basics so you’re not reinventing the wheel or pushing rocks uphill. There are so many great books written by the masters of our industry that can really help shorten the learning process. But shoot, shoot and go shoot some more. Look at it, edit it and learn. When you’re done, keep on shooting!

What is your best advice on approaching an investor to get them interested in your screenplay?

Shane: Investors have been warned by those in their camp not to invest in movies – so don’t hustle them. Everyone seems to want to pitch potential money sources the blockbuster independents like Napoleon Dynamite, Juno and Paranormal Activity. Those films had a lot more studio muscle behind them than people realize and are extreme cases. If you’re pitching an indie darling, compare it to films like Lovely and Amazing, Once, or Like Crazy. These films cost little to produce and turned very respectable profits that are more realistic to obtain as an independent filmmaker. Base hits and doubles make sense to savvy investors and they’ll be more apt to develop a sense of trust with you early on. If you use nothing but grand slams in your proposals, they’ll get very skeptical.

Do filmmakers necessarily have to have an agent or can they go about everything themselves? What’s the pros and cons?

Shane: This is a loaded question and I exclude actors, models and cinematographers in this answer, as I feel a respectful agent might be of help in getting them traction. Bottom line is, you’re either chasing it or it’s chasing you, and I think as filmmakers our best agents are ourselves. You have social media, YouTube, Vimeo and a host of other platforms that can allow you to show your stuff. Cream rises to the top and gets recognized. I haven’t heard of a fruitful agent/filmmaker relationship that was birthed by the artist knocking on doors or making cold calls hoping to get representation. By in large, agents don’t want to do the grunt work. They want to represent artists who have made names for themselves and just field calls that come in offering more work to their clients. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. The plus side is when your work is drawing respectable agencies who believe they can help you get to the next level or want to help map out your career plan. But don’t worry about it if they don’t come knocking. You posting your work on a populated Facebook page can get more eyeballs and attention than any agent can if you’re not in demand.

Can you tell us one thing you don’t learn in film school?

Shane: I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on the consequences for not having a backup plan. Many students believe their going to be the next Tarantino or Damien Chazelle right out of film school and countless institutions prey on that mindset. Fact is, very few of the grads who get film degrees will ever earn a living in our industry, so I think its important for those who are expecting to be the next big thing to pay extra close attention during camera assistant workshops, grip and electric seminars and editing class. Don’t just get a degree in playing the lottery – learn this business inside and out and learn as many of the positions surrounding it as you possibly can to assure yourself a career in doing what you love.

What are you currently working on, Shane?

Shane: Currently I am focusing on my ‘Summer Sessions’ where I am teaching free workshops to film school students and recent grads giving them a better understanding of what to expect once they leave the nest and go out into the wild. Anyone can sign up at www.whatyoudontlearninfilmschool.com and follow the ‘Summer Sessions’ tab. Once summer is over, I plan to continue writing my next book, “Why Good Actors Don’t Work, which I plan to release before summer 2019. It’s a comprehensive and brutally honest guide to everything actors need to know but never seem to learn, told from the point of view of decision makers and how to become a commodity when you have absolutely no commercial value.

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Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Genius De Milo 2Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

For sure. Being a writer isn’t just what I do, but who I am. I started writing as a child, and have made a career out of it, as a journalist, media consultant, teacher, and author. Writing is in my DNA. I’ll be clacking the keys for as long as I’m physically able … or until they figure out that I’m actually a fugitive from another dimension and the intergalactic agency in charge of such matters finally drags me back to my galaxy of origin to face my day of reckoning.

What was your inspiration for GENIUS DE MILO?

My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy … think American Pie meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. Genius de Milo is the second book in the trilogy, ramping up the stakes. Every key character gets their own personal arc, within the context of the larger narrative, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes find themselves having to save the galaxy, when they can barely pay their rent!

One of my most trusted beta readers said — in terms of quality — that Genius de Milo reached The Empire Strikes Back level for sequels. I thought that was pretty cool.

If you like authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Tom Robbins, and Christopher Moore, or movies and TV shows such as Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Groundhog Day, Quantum Leap, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun, you might want to check out Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

In each of the novels I’ve written — regardless of the specific plot — I am particularly excited about exploring the big questions: What does it all mean? Where do we come from? Is this all a dream? Is life random or is there some grand design? And then I juxtapose those themes with the smaller, day-to-day questions that we all face: How do I feel about my personal relationships? My bathroom is flooding so when is the plumber getting here? Is my Internet service working? Can I get the girl? Will my career ever amount to anything? When are we going to see the new Star Wars movie?

I get a real charge out of poking fun at ourselves — at myself! — by having the characters obsess over their daily struggles — some of them legitimate, some ludicrous — while the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance. And whether they know or it not, those same characters play a role in the grander role in the cosmic tale I’m telling, even as they are stressing out about getting to work on time so that their boss doesn’t rip them a new one!

It’s my way of exploring the key parts of my own personality. I think of myself as a diligent, hard-working adult, who takes my responsibilities seriously on all fronts, while also being a world-class goofball who likes to push the boundaries of being wacky right to the edge — and sometimes way over it.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

From start to finish it took me about 18 months. But I’ve been thinking about and plotting the Finders Keepers series for the better part of a decade, taking notes, doing some ‘pre-writing’ and laying the groundwork for a spin-off series and several stand-alone novels (and short story collections) that will take place within the Finders Keepers universe. In addition to various other projects, I plan to be writing Finders Keepers tales for a long, long time.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I used to write early in the morning, but I’m a dad now with young twins, so that’s really not an option anymore. These days, after I put my kids to bed, and have dinner with my wife, I head into my home office and write for about two hours. Then I walk the dog, clean the kitchen, and make my kids’ lunches for school the next day. Typically I’m up at 5 am, in bed by midnight. And then whenever I can I do research, and takes notes. And when I’m in the editing phase, I print pages, and then do line edits on page whenever I can steal the time, even if it’s on the train to and from work.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Genius de Milo was the first time I’d written a sequel, so it was important to me that it work on three separate, yet interconnected levels: 1) as a satisfying, stand-alone, self-contained novel that new readers can thoroughly enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers, the first book in the series; 2) as the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that not only continues but enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs, and; 3) structurally as a launch pad for the final, upcoming novel in the trilogy that will conclude with the three-book finale.

Balancing those various elements was tricky at times, but it forced me to focus in a more defined way than ever before, so that was an exciting for me as an author.

What do you love most about being an author?

Several times in each novel I’ve written I’ve had that classic a-ha moment, where an idea just comes to me, seemingly out of nowhere, that works perfectly within the context of whatever I’m working on. I often have the feeling that I’m not actually the author of the novel, but really just the conduit for the tale conjured from the ether. It’s like my fingers are there to clack the keys, but someone — or something — else is the true author. It’s pretty wild.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

A few years ago I teamed up with Crazy 8 Press. We are a collection of successful authors and creators who banded together to publish our own works, in the way we intend, without the interference of a larger publishing house that would try to dictate the direction of our plots and characters, as well as the publishing schedule. This way we are in total control of our fates — for better or worse!

For me, it was an easy decision, because — and this is generally speaking — I would much rather give up the prestige of a big publisher — who may or may not support me in actuality — in favor of having total control over my books, working with other authors who I know have my back.

The book publishing industry is constantly evolving, where the traditional ‘rules’ no longer apply. It’s changing so fast, in fact, that what was true and real even six months ago might no longer apply today. To survive, and hopefully thrive, you need to be nimble, adjusting to the way readers like to consume the stories we write, and how they most prefer to interact with us.

For now, at least, in my mind Crazy 8 Press gives me a better shot to succeed than if I went down a more traditional path. Big publishers typically want something totally cool and original … as long as it looks exactly like something else that was a huge hit.

Where can we find you on the web?

Readers can find me at http://www.russcolchamiro.com, through http://www.crazy8press.com, as well as on my Facebook author page — www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor — Twitter at @authorduderuss, and Goodreads. My books are also available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

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anne-k-edwardsAnne K. Edwards enjoys a life shared with her husband and several cats who rule the household and lives of its inhabitants. She is an avid reader, reviews ebooks, writes in several genres, and enjoys meeting other writers. She’s currently touring the blogosphere to promote her latest book, Dark of the Heart.

About the book

A runaway son has returned to the Tyles family fold after an absence of several years.  A frightened boy when he left, Joey Tyles has returned a bitter man bent on revenge on the family that made his childhood a hell.

Find out more on Amazon.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Dark of the Heart. What was your inspiration for it?

A:  The daily news of children being abused by parents who prefer the varied states of inebriation to caring for the young they bring into the world. Imagine the lives of children who live in constant fear of beatings or go hungry and cold because a parent puts their own desires first. The single mother who brings a new boyfriend into the home without caring how he will deal with her children, the father who comes home from work after a long stopover at the nearest bar, parents who stay together, perhaps hating each other, and take their anger out on hapless offspring, are some of the examples that inspired me to tell this tale and show its results.

DarkoftheHeart_ebookcoverQ: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A:  In Dark of the Heart, Joey Tyles returns to a home he fled as a terrorized boy. He has become a bitter man with only a hunger and hatred in his heart. If he cannot feed the hunger, he will seek revenge in it place. He is the personification of an abused child turned adult desiring what it never had nor will ever have—mother love. There is a dark cloud of sadness that follows him as he recognizes some of the reasons for being as he is. Any capacity for love or pity he might have is drowned by hatred for those responsible for his misery.

Q: What was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

This is a story that took years to develop and an equal number of years to write. The writing process required several rewrites until I was satisfied with the overall development of plot and characters. The bumps were many. I ran into writer’s block at times that made me set the story aside to take up something easier to write. There were times I found I didn’t understand a character and had to start over with getting to know them.  If I found them boring, it meant new characteristics for them and rewriting their parts of the story. Luckily that happened only once. I wondered often if this was a tale worth telling, even though I felt certain it wouldn’t find a publisher who believed in it. I guess it is a bit of a moral tale, but I dearly hope it isn’t preachy.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A:  I try to keep action in each scene and use it to link all the parts of the story together. I don’t necessarily mean physical action, but anything that will move the story forward, develop the plot, develop characters and perhaps show a depth to their natures as we’d find in living people. The varying of emotions, dialogue, reactions and not using the passive voice. Mostly, I hope I write with realism that makes the story believable.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A:  No. If I’m having any sort of problem at all that prevents total focus on what I’m working on, it is a lost cause for that time.  Maybe it’s avoidance of a sort, but I find anything that interferes with focus means the time is wasted and what is produced will need to be rewritten. There are other things on other projects to occupy what would otherwise be lost time.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I have no schedule because there are so many interruptions due to cats, errands, people at the door, and so on.  I keep the phone unplugged when I work, but short of posting a ‘don’t bother me’ sign in the driveway, I allow for the interruptions. One problem is that I am nosy and always want to know what they want, so it isn’t always some one else’s fault.

Q: How do you define success?

A: If I get a book published, it is one type of success. If it is read by others, that’s the best success. If one wants to get rich, don’t be a writer.  It rarely happens… Success is that sense of satisfaction I get when someone says, I read your book and enjoyed it. Isn’t that the highest compliment a writer can have?

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: In one way or another, I agree absolutely, but I call it an itch that can’t be scratched. It persists forever.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A:  Write what you want, not what someone else tells you to write. Be true to your muse. When you have others read your work, no matter who, do not let them talk you into changes. If they do this, tell them to write their own book. Too many critics haven’t the foggiest idea of what a writer is trying to say. But do listen to good criticism and see if any of it applies. Use only what you want to keep the book your creation. Too many fingers on the keyboard, can ruin the work.

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jherrick05_cA graduate of the University of Missouri—Columbia, John Herrick explores themes of spiritual journey and the human heart in his works. Herrick’s debut novel, From the Dead, which was hailed as “a solid debut novel” by the Akron Beacon Journal, achieved Amazon best-seller status. Herrick’s second novel, The Landing, was named a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Herrick’s nonfiction eBook, 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, received over 100,000 downloads and landed at #1 on Amazon’s Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration best-seller lists.  John Herrick is a native of St. Louis.

Connect with the author on the web:

http://johnherrick.net/

http://johnherrick.net/interact.htm

https://www.facebook.com/johnherrickbooks

https://twitter.com/johnherrick

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Between These Walls. What was your inspiration for it?

A: A few years ago, I caught a television news story about a high school student who had endured an onslaught of bullying because he was gay. He was on the verge of suicide—tired, desperate, filled with pain. The news story centered around a video the student had posted online. In the video, the only way he could bring himself to express his hurt was to page through words he’d written in black marker on sheets of paper. Here sat a kid who looked like an average high school freshman, wiping tears from his eyes, seeking someone to hear his cry for help.

My heart broke for that kid. I’ve never met him and don’t know if he’s alive today. But I’ll never forget him. I thought to myself, “Nobody that age should know what it’s like to feel that kind of pain.” A high-level concept for Between These Walls already resided in the back of my mind, but the heartbreak I felt for that kid became my catalyst for action. That evening, I resolved to pursue Between These Walls.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Hunter Carlisle is a Christian who harbors a secret attraction to other men. I believe a lot of individuals wrestle in that way but never tell a soul. And oftentimes, in the church world, same-sex attraction is a taboo subject, or at least an unspoken one, which creates a vacuum of isolation and pain where it shouldn’t. In Between These Walls, I wanted to examine the tug-of-war Hunter might endure in his soul as he finds himself at the crossroads of sexual identity and faith.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: It took me about 5 months to write the first draft, then another 5 months for the revision process. Prior to that, I underwent my usual research and planning phase. A typical novel takes me about 18 months, and Between These Walls fell within that window. That said, I think my speed has increased, because this book is much longer than my prior books.

I’ve approached each book differently. I wouldn’t call this a bump along the way, but I started writing Between These Walls about halfway through my planning process. I couldn’t stand the wait any longer and wanted to take advantage of that fervor. Due to my own vulnerabilities and work habits, however, I need a framework in place before I write. It prevents me from abandoning projects. So about halfway through my novel, I had to stop writing the first draft, map out the remainder of the novel, then resume writing.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

HerrickBTWA: One of the most important things I can do is write from the heart. I love inner conflict, because it occurs within the confines of the human heart and is a 24-7 conflict—you can’t run away to the beach for relief. So I consider the character—his psyche, emotions, background and circumstances—and try to capture the nuances that are unique to him, the type of details a reader will read and say, “I never would’ve considered that.” Everyone has a story of their own, as unique as their fingerprint, encompassing their blend of DNA and life experience. I treat my characters like real people and tell their story, with a sharp eye for the nuances in their stories that wouldn’t exist in anyone else’s. In fact, part of my planning stage includes several documents which bring the protagonist to life: his biography and an interview in which he answers the questions in his own voice. In Between These Walls, Hunter is a man with a guarded secret and a protective shell, so I also created a list of secrets—significant and insignificant, innocent and shameful—that he has kept to himself since childhood.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: With every book, I face a fear that I’ll sit down to write or plan a novel and nothing will come forth. It’s a weird psychological barrier writers seem to face, a fear of failure. No matter how many books I’ve written, the same fear lurks, day after day. Yet it’s an irrational fear. I’ve discovered if I simply show up and put my fingers to the keyboard, something will come forth. Showing up is half the battle. Yes, that’s a cliché, but one filled with truth.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: Writing is my second career, so I need to work around my desk job. I used to write in the evenings, but after several years, grew too tired and flipped my writing schedule. Nowadays, I start writing between 5:30 and 6 a.m. while the sun rises, and continue until my desk job begins. Sometimes I’ll wrap up lingering details in the evening. Before I take a vacation, I require myself to set the specific date when my book work will resume. I don’t have a wife or kids at this time, which is probably best—I haven’t had leisure time during the week in a decade! My poor kids would be shivering and my wife wouldn’t be happy!

Q: How do you define success?

A: Life is all about the lives we impact. Writing a book is a privilege because, with that collection of pages, you have the potential to speak to thousands of individuals at once. When I complete a novel and have zero doubt in my heart that I did the best I could, I consider it a success. But if that book encourages a reader or changes her perspective on life, I consider that greater success.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: I’m not married, so I’m not qualified to give advice there. But regardless of our situations, I believe we can examine our relationships and status quos, then examine our dreams and the steps required to get there. Then, identify the balance between those two extremes and start at that point. If you’re a single person and unattached, your balance might allow for several hours a day. If you’re married, find where you can carve out 30 minutes. Some people disregard 30 minutes, but bear this in mind: 1+1 always equals 2, and 1+1+1+1 always equals 4. Completing your goal is a matter of stacking up enough 1’s to get there. It might take longer than you wish it would, but if you keep showing up, you’ll get there. You can always polish it up later; first give yourself something tangible to work with.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: I do, though the demon part is a bit creepy! I’ll put it this way: My greatest motivator is the sense inside my gut that says, “I must do this.” When a character arises in my heart and grabs hold of me, I’m ruined for him. He won’t let go until I tell his story. If I ignore him, he lurks in the recesses of my mind, tugging at me. I do consider it divine intervention from God, an indicator that someone out there needs the character’s story.

And Orwell was right, writing a book is exhausting, at least for me. My protagonists often deal with deep, dark internal conflict. I step into their minds and hearts each day, and it becomes like a cloak on my shoulders. They take up residence in my heart and lean on me night and day. By the time I press through the planning, first draft, and revision stages, I’ve borne that character’s burdens for almost two years. It screws with my emotions and leaves me worn out by the end, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Thanks so much for letting me stop by! I’d love for you to check out Between These Walls. I also love hearing from readers, so feel free to send a message at my website. If you need fresh wind in your sails, my nonfiction book, 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, can be found as a free e-book at most retailers. More details on my books at www.johnherrick.net and my blog, johnherricknet.blogspot.com.

About the Book 

The latest release by best-selling novelist John Herrick, Between These Walls is an extraordinary tale featuring an unforgettable protagonist, Hunter Carlisle.

About Between These Walls:  At 26 years old, Hunter Carlisle has a successful sales career, a devoted girlfriend, and a rock-solid faith. But Hunter also guards a secret torment: an attraction to other men. When a career plunge causes muscle tension, Hunter seeks relief through Gabe Hellman, a handsome massage therapist. What begins as friendship takes a sudden turn and forces the two friends to reconsider the boundaries of attraction. Along the road to self-discovery, Hunter’s secret is exposed to the community. Now Hunter must face the demons of his past and confront his long-held fears about reputation, sexual identity, and matters of soul.

A story about fear and faith, grace and redemption, Between These Walls braves the crossroads of love and religion to question who we are—and who we will become.

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C.H. MacLeanTo young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

His latest book is the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes and no. Growing up, books were happiness, motivation and inspiration for me. (They still are, of course.) But I didn’t think I was creative or skilled, so I pushed writing away as anything other than a hobby.

When I finally realized I had a great story, I thought of how many other people would love to read it. If I could give back to the stories what they gave to me, if I could give something to the readers out there, I knew I had to. Finally sitting down to write, I found it easy, diving into a time-warp similar to reading a great book.

Two Empty Thrones 2What was your inspiration for Two Empty Thrones?

It might sound cliché, but it really came to me in a vision.

I finally gave myself permission to sit and write, and the story just exploded in my mind. Plot, scenes, titles, characters, all just rippled out from that explosion. In the center stands a curly-haired girl, thinking she is less than normal when she really is so much more. She showed me how she stood up to her fears and risked everything to save herself and the world, making it a better place.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I just write the stories that leap out at me. I don’t think I try to write for themes. I really just want readers to have a great reading experience. Life is supposed to be fun and interesting, and anything is possible. When I read my books, like reading other authors, I find the themes that I am living at the time.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I don’t know how long in actual time. With all I had going on, and trying to learn a new industry, that time spanned about two years.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am disciplined, but that doesn’t really matter when it comes to writing since it’s more of a compulsion. For now, I work full time, so I fit writing in anywhere I can. Notes scribbled on scratch paper, bits and pieces jotted down after work, blurts into a voice recorder all get put into a pile. On weekends, I polish and place the gems into their settings.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The hard part was finding the time. I love writing, talking about books, researching and editing — everything about books. But I didn’t start out as a writer. Finding the time required tough prioritizing, where every minute held value. I often feel terribly frustrated because I keep being pulled away.

But then I thought of the readers, and how much they would love the story. Holding onto that inspiration, I re-framed my thoughts and focused on the long-term, giving myself enough room to succeed. At the same time, I only lived in the moment, relishing the process.

What do you love most about being an author?

I think it’s the idea that someone out there will get to enjoy reading the story. I love to read and know how much I enjoy a good book. Thinking someone else is going to have that same feeling from my book is the best.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I self-published. Though I started out thinking the traditional route was the only way to go, researching self-publishing convinced me to re-think my assumptions. With my team of editors, designers, manager, etc., I can put out a work of equal quality but on my own terms. I really like the ability to preserve the vision of the book in self-publishing and being able to allow for an extended print time.

I was flabbergasted at how much work it is! Multiple rounds of editing, cover art design, formatting, marketing, the list goes on and on. It’s pretty inaccurate to call it “self-publishing” when it really takes a great team. Seeing the final product, I am completely happy with the decision.

Where can we find you on the web?

I can be found on my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If anyone has any more questions they’d like to ask, I welcome online conversations

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J. Boyce GleasonWith an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.

Visit his website at www.jboycegleason.com.

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I would say I was born a storyteller. I have always loved the power of a good story and the art of telling it well. Writing is a craft I have been working on my whole life. (Hopefully, I am getting better as I go). Having said that, there are times that words just pour onto the page for me Anvil of Godand others where I can sit back and watch the characters steal away the story.

What was your inspiration for Anvil of God?

Originally, I planned to write about Charlemagne. I took a class in college with a history professor named Charles Wood, who was one of the foremost historians of his day. We studied Charlemagne and I became fascinated by the epic poem The Song of Roland. It reminded me of Homer’s Illiad and I always imagined that when I got around to it, I would write a novel about it.

When I started to do the research, however, I kept looking for a place to start the story. I kept moving further and further back in time to find where the story really begins. I ended up two generations earlier, riveted by the story of Charles the Hammer’s daughter, Trudi, fleeing her father’s court in the dead of night to pursue love amongst his enemies. It was the scandal of the 8th century.

Eventually, I’ll get to Charlemagne.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Religious conflict, family loyalty, and the consequences of the choices we make are all central themes of Anvil. The religious conflict of the time is very much like what we grapple with today on the world stage. How does that conflict manifest itself? Do the choices we make on the battlefield, compromise our morality and belie our faith? In Anvil, I try very hard to ensure that there are no “evil” characters. There are only characters who make choices that are evil.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Three years, off and on.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m disciplined once I’m writing. I find writing very intimidating and look for every excuse I can find to avoid it. Once I’m sitting in the chair, however, it’s a great ride. When I get into a rhythm, I’ll get up, go for a run with my wife, have breakfast and then sit down to write. I’ll draft for three or four hours and then break for Vienna Fingers and coffee. I’ll sit down to edit for another hour or two, always leaving something to edit for the following morning. I usually put in five to six days a week writing (again, once I get started).

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Convincing myself I had something worthwhile to say. Writing is, in and of itself, an act of hubris. It assumes you have something new or different or important to convey that others will be interested in reading. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I also found it difficult to convince all those around me that this was more than just a hobby to me. Saying you are “writing a novel” is like saying, “I’m cutting a hit record.” People just roll their eyes until you’ve completed it. Then they take you seriously.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love it when my work resonates with people. I love it when my characters become real to them and they celebrate their successes and grieve with their losses. The greatest complement I’ve gotten for Anvil is the constant harassment I get from readers demanding Book II. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I’m hoping my decision to self-publish Anvil of God will attract a mainstream agent and publisher. It’s hard to break into the field and I felt if I just could put a copy of Anvil in people’s hands, they would see how great a story it is and why it should be in bookstores everywhere.

The book has received a lot of favorable attention. It’s gotten a “starred review” from Publishers Weekly, a “highly recommended” review from the Historical Novel Society; it’s been named “Best Historical Fiction Novel of 2014” by the Independent Publishers Awards and currently is a finalist in the ForeWord Review’s “Book of the Year” Awards.   Time will tell, however, if it succeeds in helping make it to mainstream publishing.

Where can we find you on the web?

You can purchase Anvil almost anywhere online that sells books. The Amazon site is: http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/blog-j-boyce-gleason. You can access all the other major sites through my website listed below. You can also order Anvil through you local bookstore.

My website is: www.jboycegleason.com

My Facebook page is: J. Boyce Gleason

My Twitter account is: @JBoyceGleason

And you can follow my blog on my website (www.jboycegleason.com/blog) or on: http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/blog-j-boyce-gleason

Please join me on whatever venue serves you best. And please share with your network!

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Stephen Langford 7STEPHEN LANGFORD is a veteran writer/producer of over 150 hours of primetime television. His credits include Family Matters and Malcolm and Eddie.He has also ventured into screenwriting and fiction. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Sandy, and their two daughters.

About White Rogue:

White Rogue 7Cold War era biological experiments are resurrected and after Boston experiences a seemingly inexplicable bio-terrorist attack, the Center for Disease Control’s Dr. Davie Richards and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Paula Mushari once again join forces to uncover who is behind it. An obscure reference to a Dresden project found amid crash site evidence marks them both for execution. Paula and Dave are forced to leave Boston in the middle of the night and head to Washington, D.C.,where they soon find that anyone they contact also becomes the target of assassins. When the daughter of the CDC’s director is taken hostage, Dave and Paula come face to face with an evil that forces them to question the very nature of duty and service to country. With the help of one man, they learn the true meaning of dark operatives while they desperately try to stop another bio-attack from happening.

Buy the Book at Amazon.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Yes, I was a day dreamer as a school boy and decided to turn my inattentiveness into way to make a living.

What was your inspiration for White Rogue.  

Actually, it was Dr. David Fett who conceived the series. White Rogue is the second installment. He brought both Connie Malcolm and me together to develop a screen play and book. In White Rogue, he wanted to explore the principle, underscored by the U.S. Supreme Court, that the primary obligation of government is to protect people and to do no harm to the populace.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing? 

One of the themes that the three of us wanted to highlight in White Rogue was the return of a cold war mentality in our country. While it’s not communism behind the shift in our cultural and political lives, it is no less real now that   terrorism has threatened and harmed our nation.  As time goes by, as we exit from the conflict in Afghanistan, it will become more and more apparent that we’ve gone back to the future.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

We worked on White Rogue for nearly two years.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day. 

I usually write in the mornings (I run a film company) and I write in bursts. It’s very intense and very fast. It’s very different for my partners. They both are extremely precise and disciplined in how they approach the process.  David is a physician and Connie is a former journalist.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?  

The challenge is always facing the daunting task of writing the vast amount of pages. As the pages pile up, you still feel like you’re running in place.

What do you love most about being an author?

I guess it’s the freedom.  There’s no network executive putting in their two cents.  I was watching a TV series called “Episodes,” and the poor writers had to endure the networks whims and ridiculous demands. It took me back to the days when I worked in network television.  It made me not miss it and enjoy what I’m doing now.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision? 

We self-published White Rogue through Create Space which is owned by Amazon.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.whiteroguethebook.com

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