Author Interview – Greg Levin #authors @Greg_Levin #books

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Greg Levin who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his new book, In Wolves’ Clothing.

Greg on Writing

What motivates you to write?

The desire to remain sane. Kafka was spot on when he famously said, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” I can sometimes make it two or three days without working on a novel, blog post or grocery list, but after that I absolutely MUST write. Even when I’m on vacation in paradise with my beautiful wife, I need to scratch out a page here and there to keep the crazy away. Too much sun and surf and relaxation terrifies me.

Your biggest writing distractions?

My wife’s desire to go on vacations in paradise. That, and any kind of noise other than the clicks of my own keyboard and synapses. I wear silicone earplugs whenever writing to avoid being pulled out of my fictional world by such annoying sounds as my wife saying good morning, my teenage daughter sneaking back into the house, or my forgotten cats begging me to feed them. I know this makes me seem a little selfish and mean, but in my defense, I’m not a very good person.

What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips/advice?

It’s been a while since I’ve referenced the following books (and maybe it’s time I revisit), but I’d have to say Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life and Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel. As for sites on the Interweb, I regularly click to Writer Unboxed, Lit Reactor and Writer’s Digest. Joanna Penn’s site—The Creative Penn—is another excellent online resource for writers, newbies and veterans alike.

Least favorite thing about writing?

That’s easy—the fact that I can’t quit it. It’s got me by the goodies and will never let go. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, but there are times when the relationship turns abusive and I just want out. I’ve tried to leave in the past, but she always finds me and lures me back with her irresistible guile and powerful verbs.

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

My friends all think it’s fantastic … until I come out with a new novel and camp outside their homes until they buy multiple copies and write a rave review on Amazon. It’s tiresome for everyone involved.

As for my family, they’re extremely supportive—even when I’m losing my mind and being belligerent and/or neglectful while trying to finish a book. When I do finally finish, my parents always read it in one sitting, then call me afterward to tell me it’s brilliant. I should point out my parents are drinkers. My wife, she’s a bit too supportive. Whenever I even joke about quitting the writing game, she slaps me around—much the way writing does, albeit with better intentions. Still, having someone believe so strongly in you is dangerous.

Most important things a writer should spend money on?

If you’re an indie author like me, you can’t skimp on cover design, editing, proofreading, formatting and marketing. It’s also a good idea to fork over some cash for a course on how to be a drug kingpin or a jewel thief—that way you’ll always have plenty of money to pay for all those other items I mentioned. Finally, bourbon and vodka. (But never mix the two. That’s unhealthy.)

How do you measure your success as a writer?

By the word. It’s a lot more gratifying than measuring success by the royalties. Delusional is my middle name.

What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?

I’d tell myself debut novels very rarely do well, so it’s better to start off with your third or fourth. I’d also tell myself that trying to make it as a writer is a grind, and that the grind is often painful and miserable, and that it’s important to use that pain and misery to write something worth a damn.

And to never quit. Because you can’t. And if you can, then you were never a writer to begin with. (Insert image of me dropping a mic and confidently strutting away … then blushing upon the realization I still have several interview questions left to answer.)

As a reader

What is your favorite book quote?

Oh my, I have to choose just one? That’s like asking me to choose a favorite snowflake or Rocky film. Hmmm, I think I’ll have to go with the following staggeringly good one from Denis Johnson—an amazing writer we lost earlier this year:

“Talk into my bullet hole. Tell me I’m fine.” (From Jesus’ Son.)

Favorite book hero and/or villain, and why?

I have two favorites, but (spoiler alert) they are really the same person. The first is the unnamed protagonist of Fight Club, and the second is Tyler Durden of Fight Club. I could go on for days explaining why they/he are/is my favorite hero/villain, but I must respect the first rule of Fight Club and not talk about Fight Club. I’ve already said too much.

Your most influential book?

This may shock you, but it’s Fight Club. It’s the book that really got me into contemporary transgressive fiction. And it’s not even my favorite book by Chuck Palahniuk. But it’s the one that awoke in me a fresh new way of writing­—dangerous prose with a minimalist bent. Prose that is dark and startling, but also peppered with pathos, humor and humanity.

Warning: Humble-brag ahead. … You can imagine my elation—and my terror—when, after having been a huge fan of Palahniuk’s for years, I got selected by him to participate in his inaugural “Writing Wrong” workshop in Portland this past spring (along with a dozen other writers). Every Monday for ten weeks I got to sit in a room with Chuck, read sections of In Wolves’ Clothing (a work in progress at the time), and have him tell me everything I had to fix to make the book as good as I had deluded myself into thinking it already was. The whole experience was extremely rewarding, and humbling. Most importantly, it gave me the ability to name-drop Chuck Palahniuk during interviews for the rest of my life.

Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

I’m reading Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer. It’s dark, sardonic and absurd. You know, the perfect book to bring to the beach. A fellow writer recommended it to me after shaming me for having never read it. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover Mr. Baer’s writing talent. I guess I’ve just been too busy trying to discover mine.

If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?

The Bible. Because I want to know who wrote it, and because I’d make millions charging people admission to see my signed copy. But I don’t want to end this interview on such a snarky note, so I’m going to provide another answer: Fight Club. You know, in case I ever lose my current copy that Chuck Palahniuk signed for me. Did I mention I know Chuck?

Before I go, thank you very much, Georgina (or is it Gee? Or G. L.?) for giving me such valuable real estate on your most excellent blog. Also, a huge thank you to your readers, who hopefully stuck around here till the end so I can remind them to check out my brand new novel, In Wolves’ Clothing..

Gee: You’re welcome 🙂

About the book

You are living in the your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?

As the protagonist of In Wolves’ Clothing, I’m based in present-day LA, which is nice if you can stand the brutal traffic, brutal sunshine and all the brutally beautiful people. I, personally, cannot. So it’s a good thing I travel the globe for my job. I might be in Phnom Penh one week, Mumbai the next, and Rio de Janeiro the week after that. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Not even close. After all, there’s nothing glamorous about pretending to be a pedophile. Yup, that’s what I do for work. If you know of a better way to rescue victims of child sex trafficking, feel free to share it with me. Until then, my team and I will keep hopping on planes, drinking with pimps, and pulling off the most heartbreaking sting operations you can imagine.

About Greg Levin

Greg Levin is an award-winning author of contemporary fiction with a dark comedic tinge. He resides with his wife, daughter and two cats in Austin, Texas, where he’s currently wanted by local authorities for refusing to say “y’all” or do the two-step.

In Wolves’ Clothing  by Greg Levin

Zero Slade is not a bad guy—he merely plays one when saving children’s lives.

During his seven years on a team fighting child sex trafficking around the globe, Zero’s become quite good at schmoozing with pimps, getting handcuffed by cops and pretending not to care about the Lost Girls he liberates. But the dangerous sting operations—along with Zero’s affinity for prescription painkillers—are starting to take their toll on his marriage. And sanity.

You can also follow Greg on his social media sites!

If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview,  please email me at TheWritingChimp@gmail.com

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Get Divided Serenity #FREE on all Amazon stores! #SCIFI #FANTASY

AMAZON 5 Star Review

A fantastic world in which you are never quite sure who you should really be supporting.

A great story from G L Cromarty, set in a world of have’s and have not’s. The have’s are the Aterran colonists who on a planet called Serenity have nothing to fear, living in relative safety and comfort behind a huge protective barrier powered by ancient technologies that few now understand. The have not’s are a warrior class called the Shadowlanders who live outside the protection of the barrier and in perpetual war with the primitive warmongering natives called the Jaru. So when the protective barrier fails, what then?

G L Cromarty has created a fantastic world in which you are never quite sure who you should really be supporting. With some surprising plot twists, G L Cromarty cleverly takes the reader on a journey of treachery, deceit and all consuming hatred to weave a great story that surprises and delights.

The first two books in the trilogy are well written and easily consumed and I can’t wait for the climactic third book to arrive soon. Just be aware that the main character Tanis is certainly no angel and this is reflected in his colorful language.

About Book One – Divided Serenity

Long ago, when the ancients colonized the planet named Serenity, they displaced an indigenous population and constructed a dividing force-field wall. But when an earthquake destroys the power to the protective wall, only three people have the skills to repair it—until the first two disappear en route. Now Hannah, as the last expert, must go. Her journey will take her into a native land engulfed by war between ancient enemies. Along the way, her own perceptions will be changed and she will find herself playing a part in a new rivalry between powerful forces in Shadowland determined at bringing down Aterra and that threaten to rip Shadowland apart.

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[Divided Serenity AU]

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[Or type “Divided Serenity” in your local Amazon store]

Author Interview – Don Foxe #Author #books @don_foxe

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Don Foxe who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his book series, Sapce Fleet Sagas.

 Don on Writing

Where do you get your ideas?   Combination of history, my life, and current events.

What motivates you to write?      Joy. It’s fun seeing what happens.

How many hours a week do you spend writing?  

This is a bit tricky, because now that I have published works, I find a lot of my time is spent writing for marketing, not just in production of the next story or collection — still, I average two hours/day on fiction alone, so fourteen to fifteen hours/week.

Best thing about writing?

Again, for me, because of how I write, its seeing where the characters take the storyline.

Your biggest writing distractions?          

I own a health club that is BUSY! Sixty to seventy hours a week with that tends to be a bit distracting from everything else.

What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips / advice?

  • Creative Penn
  • Alliance of Independent Authors
  • Books Go Social
  • GrammarBook.com
  • Writing Forward
  • Quickanddirtytips.com

How long does it take you to write a book?   

Four to six weeks to flesh out the original story, and five to six months to rewrite so it’s worth publishing.

Have you ever cut anything from your book and why? 

Good Lord, Woman! Who doesn’t cut stuff from their books? In my case my wife forces me to cut science-crap down to a couple of paragraphs from the pages I start with. I love the techie stuff, but I realize the average person goes to sleep. The other thing I have to be careful with is the erotic . . . my novels are adult, but I cut out the vivid descriptions. I do keep them, however, in case I decide to release an erotic sci-fi thriller under another name.

Least favorite thing about writing?

Writing — nothing. I enjoy it all. Marketing, however, sucks. I’m actually quite good at marketing, but the number of mistakes you have to make in order to move forward is daunting.

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

Mostly, pride. The books have received high reviews, professional and readers ratings, and the haiku exchanges are fun and inspirational, so people close to me think it’s cool I can pull it all off.

Most important thing a writer should spend money on?

Their spouse. No, only kidding . . . actually, not kidding. You best spend time and money on people you love first. Be VERY CAREFUL about spending money on publishing agents. My first experience cost me a lot, and I learned a lot. DO YOUR RESEARCH if you need a publisher. What I did learn was all you really need is an editor. Pay for a professional edit, and everything else relative to writing-publishing can be done very cheaply.

How do you measure your success as a writer?    

Reviews. Real reviews, not just the ones I pay for to boost getting reviews.

What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?

#1 — have someone you trust to tell you the truth read your book.

#2 — spend the damn time making it a book, and not just a story. If you don’t want to sweat rewrites, consider another hobby.

#3 — hire an editor, and listen to them! But DO NOT RELY on them. You should have done your own substantial edits before sending a draft to a professional.

#4 — develop a taste for alcohol — I don’t drink, but I understand now why so many “great” writers are alcoholics and drug addicted . . . only kidding . . . again . . . maybe.

As a reader

What is your favorite genre(s)? Tell us more about why you love them?

Urban fantasy. Jim Butcher. Benjamin Jacka. Kat Richardson. Faith Hunter. Kevin Hearne. The genre allows for development of characters by placing them in unimaginable situations. It draws on history, fantasy, myth, and suspense. Because the stories are contemporary, it is easy to empathize and easier to accept the supernatural aspects.

Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? Details.

The weekend of July 20 – 22, 2007. A family wedding at a resort planned. Friday night reception dinner. Saturday, early afternoon wedding. After that, we get free time to enjoy the mini-vacation. Only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows is released July 21st and I, of course, will receive my early-ordered book, and, yes, I am sad to say I felt “too ill” to go with my wife to the wedding. Two things — first, I assume my wife will never read this, even if it gets printed; second – second marriage for the bride and I didn’t like her much anyway . . . and I’m not sure she knows how to read, so I’m pretty safe there.

Favorite book hero and / or villain and why? 

Harry Dresden. Kind of a loser, but with heart. Hero because it gets forced on him. Old world chivalry. He uses magic, but it’s usually thought out, until all hell breaks out and it’s whatever happens happens (like real life).

I honestly cannot think of a villain that stays with me. I think I feel a character coming into my near future.

Your most influential book(s)?      

Call of the Wild / Jack London. I read it when I was four (yep) actually four. I hated it, could not leave it, cried, and hoped, and discovered the magic reading created. More than fifty years later and I donate and do fundraisers for animal recovery and adoption, have never visited Alaska (don’t plan to), and will stop and confront anyone abusing an animal. A neighbor’s pitbull was loose and I watched him put the dog on the sidewalk and place a knee across its neck. I got off my bike, and had to be the funniest looking person ever — you can’t walk tough when your bike shoes have clips, okay! Regardless, he got the message, and he’s been very nice to that dog since.

Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

This is going to be a cop-out. I’m reading the eighth book in a series I really enjoyed up until number seven. At that point it seemed the writer was getting a bit tired of his own characters, but I gave him a pass, expecting a bounce-back with the next book. Usually I read a book in a couple of hours, especially one I’m already invested in via a series . . . not so much this time. I’ve had it for two weeks and I haven’t gotten half-way through. So I won’t tell the name or series, just sad he either does not realize what is occurring, or more sad, he doesn’t care.

If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?

The Gothenburg Bible – because a signed original would make me rich, and I have no problem professing my desire for ultimate wealth, nor having the mercenary nature necessary to sell something “priceless.”

About the book

You are living in your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?

With an entire galaxy to choose from, I’m living on a small ranch north of Barcelona, Spain. Following the Pandemic, the world’s population is less than half. Ocean Creep has drowned many famous seaports, but Spain took great effort to preserve as much of Barcelona as possible. The city is art. Being able to still walk the downtown, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy the architecture is a short ride away.

On the ranch I have my horses. Just a few so I can ride the surrounding countryside, with invited friends, or, my favorite, alone.

It is sad that so many have perished. It is sometimes frightening when the rule of law is not always enforceable. The Earth appreciates the reprieve, and flourishes.

You are your most recent protagonist. What do you like doing for fun? What do you hate doing and why?

Daniel Cooper – metahuman via reengineering with an expanded lifetime – and I enjoy now what I loved as a kid — climbing. As a toddler climbing porch railings, to a child in the trees, to an adolescent learning to climb and repel in the southern Appalachian Mountains. When I need relief – recharging – escape, any mountainside will do. The more I need to concentrate on the next handhold, the more fun the experience of reaching the top.

Deciding life and death is the most hated part of command because, well, someone will die. Deciding someone will die is even more difficult to live with than killing.

About Don Foxe

Don Foxe lives in the scenic southern town of Bluffton, SC with his wife, Sarah. They own Beach City Health and Fitness on Hilton Head Island, SC, consistently rated the best island lifestyle location in the United States. (www.beachcityfitness.com)

Don’s eclectic professional life includes teaching dance fitness (Zumba – Body Jam); presenter of sales and marketing workshops (several awards in both); peer-review for science-based exercise papers (Member of the American College of Sports Medicine); martial arts group training sessions for fitness and self-confidence (Lifetime Awards from US Martial Arts and World Martial Arts Associations), and writer.

He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and Southern Independent Book Sellers. His attention to detail comes from his passion for poetry, especially the Japanese Haiku form. His background in science-based research is evident in his fiction, as commented on by several professional reviews by Readers Favorite, OnlineBookClub, and BookViral.

Don’s guest blogs appear on sci-fi sites like SFFWorld and writing/publishing powerhouses such as The Creative Penn.

Space Fleet Sagas by Don Foxe

Space Fleet Sagas have been described as the next great Space Opera series by BookViral. The sweeping mythology of a future Earth’s introduction to the galaxy, and the trials and tribulations both in space and at home thatensue following first contact.

The plots cross genres, as political mysteries are solved with lots of action and adventure by humans, aliens, and genetically altered protagonists.

Both collections of haiku poetry reached the top one percent on Amazon literature / poetry charts, and both reached #1 on the Amazon Top 100 for Japanese Poetry / Haiku.

You can also follow Don on his social media sites!

If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview,  please email me at TheWritingChimp@gmail.com

I am a prisoner in a book #writing #amwriting #writingquotes

Once I dive into these pages

I may not come out for ages.

Books have powers over me.

Inside a book I am not free.

I am a prisoner in a land

of print on paper in my hand.

But do not worry. Do not fear.

I am a happy captive here.

 

Captive by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

A world in a book #amwriting

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I love adventure…inside my book #amwriting

I have never been a person enamoured with that thing called adventure. If there is something exciting going on, I am usually heading in the other direction. For me adventure is ‘trying out a new restaurant’, or ‘cutting an extra inch off my hair’.

I think the technical term is ‘novelty averse’.

I am the sort of person who feels deeply emotional when hearing an anecdotal story about someone I have never even met. Homeless puppies, sagas of lost journals, can really tear me up. If there’s a spider trapped in a sink, I am the kind of person who rescues it—Ok, maybe not the spider.

Despite this I have lived a million adventures within the pages of a book, and particularly bloodthirsty adventures at that!

Yes, I should confess at this point that I possess particularly violent taste when it comes to other peoples adventures. Torture and killing is absolutely fine in the quest of a good story—the more brutal the better. Our heroes wouldn’t have a chance to shine without a few trials and obstacles in their way.

Let’s face it, a walk in the park never made a hero—unless the walk in the park happened to involve thwarting an attack by soul-eating aliens with secret plans to destroy the earth…

Perhaps it’s just as well that I stick to the books 😉