I recently took part in this interview from the cool folks at AwesomeGang. Thought I’d share it here as well.
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My wife describes me as “Renaissance Man”, though I would probably say that is a bit much. I just have a lot of hobbies! I enjoy the act and art of “creation.” Doesn’t really matter what it is – art, music, software, and even writing. I am also a published recording artist, having been the lead singer of a Heavy Metal band back in the late 80s and early 90s. My kids can’t stand it!
“Joes: The Cold War Diaries Volume 1” is my first non-technical book. I was very involved with the Linux Operating System and movement during its infancy, and published a few technical books around that time (early 1990s). I’m very involved with tech startup companies here in the Atlanta area, and at one time or another, I was fairly prolific I suppose in writing about it and championing the community here.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Joes: The Cold War Diaries Volume 1” was inspired by the antics of the young men I served with during my tour of duty in the U.S. Army in the late 1980s. It is a collection of bite-sized funny stories – downright side-splitting at times. Some of them were difficult to write as I found myself doubled over in pain laughing so much as I recalled them all. I think a lot of people might be surprised at just how silly 18-22 year old men can be when placed alongside a hostile border with nothing else to do!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Hazelnut coffee. I’m a coffee fanatic, and usually don’t drink hazelnut coffee. But for some reason, when I’m writing, painting, or developing software, it calms me a bit. I’ve no idea why!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Anything by the late Douglas Adams, for sure. What a maestro. Terry Pratchett is a close second.
Another book that inspired me, believe it or not, is Audie Murphy’s 1949 autobiography “To Hell and Back.” In addition to being a fine young actor, Audie was the most decorated soldier that came out of WW2. This is of particular interest since he was originally rejected by the military for being too short and frail (not to mention underage). I was honored to have served in Audie’s former unit during my time in the Army (3rd Infantry Division). The book didn’t inspire me to write funny bits, but it did show me that obstacles in life are speed bumps, and nothing more.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on taking a few deep breaths after the release of Joes. Camping with my two young girls is on the docket! My wife doesn’t attend our ritual camping trips – probably out of the fear that I will flashback and kill everything in the woods. She truly doesn’t know what she’s missing! I’m also busy growing my creative design and software company, Incursus.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
While I am very familiar with things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I must confess that I am somewhat new to the area of promoting a book. I’m fortunate in that I have a ready-made network of fellow veterans that I can market to via Facebook groups and other such venues. Veterans are a close-knit bunch – about as tight as you can get. So there’s a lot of word-of-mouth that happens organically in groups like that.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
This is an interesting question. As I mentioned before, “creating things” is a passion and labor of love for me. I quite literally sat down, sketched out the general flow of the book, and worked pretty much non-stop on it until it was done. I never burned out on it. I can imagine that someone writing a proper novel might hit the wall at some point.
Along the way, however, I routinely bounced snippets of the stories in my book off of a handful of fellow veterans that served as sounding boards for me. They were quick to let me know that something wasn’t really funny, or didn’t really provide the full view of a particular story angle. Definitely surround yourself with like-minded folks who aren’t as close to your subject matter as you. That whole “can’t see the forest for the trees” bit is sadly very true.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Keep chopping wood” is a big one. Don’t stop. Don’t give up until you hit your goals.
For me, the best “personal” advice I ever heard came from my old man – my dad. He was quite a character. I miss him terribly, but all of his little “sayings” have all come true as I’ve gotten older and started a family. I’m just glad he isn’t here to laugh in my face when my girls are acting up!
One of his sayings that I think resonates the most with me now is “the worst feeling in the world is so desperately wanting to do something for someone, and you can’t.” We didn’t have a ton of money growing up, but he was always generous with what we had, and his time. I try to pass that along to my girls, and so far, they seem to get it!
What’s next for you as a writer?
I called my first non-technical book a “volume 1” for a reason. Regardless of the success level the book achieves, I wanted to position myself for a logical “volume 2.” I probably have enough material for five volumes in this series! It is also incredibly important to me that these stories, and the people involved, are not lost to time. The Cold War, despite being nicknamed “The War That Never Was”, was very real. People died in the service of our great nation. I hope to bring a bit of levity to the darker side of the period.