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 lived my life in books #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 will 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 alien vampires with secret plans to destroy the earth.

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

Author Interview – M.L. Williams

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author M.L. Williams who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his book, SEERS OF VERDE.

M.L. Williams On Writing

When I start working on a project, many times the characters come to me in my dreams and either demand their story be told or provide me with ideas for future chapters.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be true to your ideas and put in the time. Writing can be lonely. Find mentors or other writers who can be a support group or sounding board. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions influence you during the writing process.

Best thing about writing?

Seeing these characters unfold and tell their stories is fascinating.

Least favourite thing about writing?

Rewriting and editing.

What is your favourite genre(s)?

Science fiction and that curious oxymoron, historical fiction.

Both genres appeal to my imagination. With science fiction, the themes and characters can be endless, only limited by the imagination. I guess historical fiction appeals to my sense of romance for another period of time.

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

Interesting question. I have not gone to parties or social events sometimes, preferring to stay home and read. I also put off chores when in the middle of a good book and read well into the night when I should have gone to bed.

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

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I read this in a college literature class and was immediately enraptured by his imagination and sarcastic tone. It sparked my love of other fiction, especially science fiction.

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

I am reading Raptor by Gary Jennings. I have had this book on my shelf for years and just needed time to get to it. His writing and knowledge of history and ancient languages is impressive, but he keeps using different languages throughout the story. I was curious about this author since reviewers have raved about his novel, Aztec. I do not like it when authors flaunt their expertise and vocabulary in ways that detract from the story. It’s difficult to stay with the story when the reader keeps stumbling over arcane references and unfamiliar words.

About your book…

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

In Return of the Earthers, I would be living on the planet Verde Grande, an abandoned and almost forgotten Earth colony. The planet has one huge land mass. A treacherous mountain range divides the lone continent into two tracts.

The largest one is a huge verdant valley that stretches for hundreds of miles. One group of colonists live there and developed a relatively peaceful society ruled by a ever watchful clan of psychic women — the Seers.

The smaller area is a narrow valley strewn with huge boulders but plentiful with wildlife. A second group of colonists escaped to here during an attack and have developed into a hunter society.

The planet was covered by a thick blanket of moss. Most of the moss has been replaced by Earth plants brought by the bioformers and cultivated by the colonists, who have been living there for almost three centuries. However, the mountain range has retained its much of its native moss so the planet looks like a giant emerald as seen by an orbiting space ship.

 You are your most recent protagonist, What do you like doing for fun?

I am Aron Nels, an orchard keeper. Even though maintaining, pruning and harvesting fruit from the trees is my livelihood, I would not trade this lifestyle for another. Being outside in nature and seeing the benefits of my hard work is extremely gratifying. My family has been doing this for generations. It’s in my blood.

After being imprisoned during a misunderstanding, I am told I am one of the last members of a secret warrior sect that has been fighting to protect its people from attackers sent by the Seers. Due to a forced hypnosis, in which my memories have been suppressed, I refuse to believe I am one of the last surviving warriors.

Seers of Verde by M.L. Williams

Marauders from a renegade planet attack an Earth colony ship forcing landing parties to split into two groups in a desperate attempt to escape. Their vessels are destroyed stranding them without their technology on either side of an imposing mountain range on the planet Verde Grande.

Descendants of a mysterious Seer now protect their people but become the bane of the hunter society on the other side of the mountain.

You can also follow M.L. Williams on his blog! https://mlwilliamsbooks.com

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

You know you’re a writer when you’ve found a million ways to procrastinate #writer #writing

You know you’re a writer when you’ve found a million ways to procrastinate…here are a few tips to help you spot the procrastination pitfalls.

Reading really is the perfect excuse for any writer because you can convince yourself that it is actually helping you to become a better writer. Yes, it certainly is, but sometimes you do need to put the book down and get back to your keyboard and write.

Snacks. If you want to keep your writing brain in tip-top working order you need a snack, right? Yes, until you realise you’ve eaten enough food for a small party, and then it’s time to explore the possibility that you might be letting procrastination creep in.

Daydreaming is the birthplace of all good plot ideas. But maybe if you’re daydreaming about ‘fetching another snack’, it’s time to get on with actually writing the book!

Editing! Is the worst form of writer procrastination. You know you need to start the next chapter, but it’s so enticing to pop back to what you did yesterday . . . just for a quick check. The next thing you know, you’ve taken a bulldozer to it . . . and you’re not making any new progress on the book!

Desk tidy. Yes, we have all been there and done that, but after your 23rd pencil readjustment, you know you really need to get back to your book!

What’s your favourite procrastination habit? 🙂

Writing Characters – Perspectives and POV #writing #amwriting

When you start writing a book, you have a number (okay a plethora) of things to consider. But one important consideration, is the number of character perspectives your book will have.

Perspectives and POV are often used interchangeably. For the purpose of this article:

Perspective = who (as in the character)

POV = how (style of showing the character)


What are the options when it comes to perspectives ?

We can write from a single persons perspective, two peoples, or many. Here are the main options:

  • Single – 1 protagonist
  • Double – combination of 2 protagonists (romantic)
  • Double – 1 protagonist v 1 antagonist
  • Double – combination of 2 protagonists e.g. friends or colleagues or family members (platonic)
  • Triple – 2 protagonists (usually working together), and 1 antagonist
  • Anything more than 3 – The cast of thousands…enough said

I use the term protagonist / antagonist loosely here because I personally love blurry lines between the ‘good’ guys and the ‘bad’ guys, and books certainly don’t need to have a stereotypical representative of either type. But generally, there is one character you root for more than the others, and the reader does need to feel some level of warmth or compassion toward them, and be able to identify with them.

How many perspectives is right?

It’s very much a matter of personal taste, but some pros v cons:

  • Single is simple, but it can be constricting because it has such a narrow focus on events.
  • Movies and TV shows often focus on multiple perspective and we are often presented with details of ‘stuff’ that is going on outside the MC’s (main character) field of view or knowledge. This hidden knowledge that we (the reader or viewer) knows about, but our MC doesn’t, often drives story tension. It provokes questions such as… What will they do when they realise? How will they react?
  • With single perspective, the tension is all in real time. You get the events (and shocks) at the same time as the character does, and so this might arguably submerge the reader to a greater extent.
  • Multiple perspectives, in any combination, allow greater freedom for the writer to build the world and add dimension. Possibly at the cost of depth for your MC, since the more character perspectives you have, the less time you can spend in any single person’s head.

The antagonist perspective? 

  • No book needs an antagonist, but it does need a source of conflict, which could be a person, but might equally be a disease, a war, a natural disaster, or even a financial or emotional concern.
  • If you do have a main antagonist in the story it can be nice to get inside their head and find out what their motivation is, and all antagonists should have a powerful motivation. Of course, there are plenty of ways you can reveal this information without giving them book realestate in terms of their own perspective, but it can add an interesting dimension, and it’s something to consider.

What are the styles for writing the character POV?

The Point of view is how we show that characters perspective.

  • First person – I walked along the path.
  • Third person – She walked along the path.
  • Close third person (Internal dialog for third person) – Damn it, I don’t have my umbrella!
  • Third person cinematic – Draws the reader in from a distance i.e. describe the room or scene.
  • Narrator / Omniscient – Knows everything. (unusual)

Whether you write in the first or third person, and no matter how many perspectives your novel may have, it’s essential to see all the character’s feelings. First person and close third person use internal thoughts to jump right behind the eyes of the character.

One of my favourite writing styles is using a scene transition from third person cinematic to close third person. I love the way that it spirals in, closer and closer, until you are sitting in the character’s skin.

There’s a great write up here on character POV [3rd person point-of-view].

Selecting a POV.

  • Most people can cope with third person (most commonly used style).
  • Some people are put off by first person (second most commonly used style).
  • First person is generally used for a single protagonist, and occasionally for two perspectives. I can’t think of any books that I have read from first person POV that use more than two perspectives (but happy for examples if you have read one!)

My writing style. I use a number of perspectives (more than 3), and I couldn’t write any other way. Movies and TV rarely focus on a single person, and I enjoy the flexibility of this style when writing myself (And If Stephen King, Michael Crichton, and George RR Martin can get away with it, as far as I am concerned so can I) But it’s definitely not for everyone. Many books do have more than one perspective. Two is certainly not unusual. Three or more is less common. I write in third person POV, but I use both cinematic and close 3rd person to zoom in and out.


I would love to hear what your preferred perspectives and POV for writing and reading is! And why you like it.

Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us #writing

When we start out in life, we have amazing clarity on what we want to be. Perhaps we want to be a nurse, or a vet, or a firefighter. These simple needs or aspirations that we feel as a child can be forgotten as we grow up, and we lose sight of our deepest sense of purpose. Not everyone can, should, or will be as an adult, the thing they wanted to be as a child. But it is worth exploring this early career ideal though, because it is often surprisingly close to what we want and need as an adult.

This is an old video now, and I first watched it when it came out several years ago.

The concepts explained in this video remain true, and there is a surprising truth about what motivates us.

So, the surprising thing about motivation, is that it is only loosely related to money. We need ‘enough’ money, and once we have enough, our motivation shifts to a different level.

I spend anywhere from 10 hours upwards working on writing in my spare time, many weeks it can be as high as 20 hours. I am not alone in this, and my previous survey confirmed that many of my blog readers, just like me, can spend many hours a week working on their writing projects, with little or no monetary reward.

So why do we do this? Why use our precious time on something that pays so poorly, if it pays at all?

It all comes down to the three pillars of motivation.

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose.

These are the things we want and crave. These are the things that get us out of bed in the morning, and keep us tapping away at our keyboards late into the night.

Autonomy: This is about the freedom to choose within the bounds of interdependence. In other words, given a set goal or objective, having the freedom to decide for ourselves how best to achieve this can prove to be powerful both to our performance and our overall wellness.

Master: We want to improve. This really is the bottom line. Find me a writer who has just written a great book, who doesn’t want to write an even better one next time – enough said.

Purpose: This is our energy, and is derived by connecting our conquest to our higher purpose. Living your life purpose might sound like a cliche, but if we know what our life purpose is, and we can find a way to make it a part of our working or home life, then we are well on the way to living a happy, fulfilled life.

For more on the subject see The Three Pillars of Motivation

For more on finding your life purpose see How to find your life purpose

I will leave you with a thought and a question. What did you want to be when you were a child, and does it relate at all to what you are doing now? Can you see any connection between what you love doing now, and what your childhood aspirations were?

15 questions to reveal your ultimate purpose in life

Progress on Book 2 – Divided World Series #amwriting

It has been a busy few months since the release of book 1 in my Divided World Series. I have been busy editing book 2, which takes me an awful long time, and I went through many rounds before I felt ready to send it out to my beta readers.

I have received some excellent feedback so far (my beta readers are awesome btw), and I have made a few tweaks to address points they raised. Now, I am just waiting for the final batch of feedback, after which I will make any further necessary adjustments. Then it will be onto the last editing checks to make sure I have not stuffed anything up while I was tweaking! Which does happen 😉

While waiting on the beta feedback, I have got straight onto editing book 3, which I finished drafting in June last year…Feels like a long time ago now. Book 3 needed a little more detail on a particular story thread, so a couple more chapters have been added. Once I re-read it, I will get a feel as to whether this is sufficient. I may need to add one more chapter…will have to see. The 3rd book is already pretty chunky at 110k so I am hoping I can chop it back during editing.

Book 3 concludes all the major plot points, and provides a nice container for a significant section of the storyline. However, it will definitely carry on, and I have already started incorporating some new players for book 4 in book 3. So much fun!

One of the things I love about writing, is the delight of sitting on the humongous secrets that your book reveals along the way. I love leaving surprises along the way.

One of my other loves about writing is getting into my characters. I love how they unravel before my eyes and how the personality flaws and nuances emerge the more I think about them. I am really enjoying some of the new characters introduced in book 3 who will become the new players in book 4. I can see that they will nicely take up the slack left from those characters who will be exiting. 

In the background, I have been mulling over the idea of tackling the story of the planet’s inception. I drop hints and details along the way, but it would make a great story in itself. Also the prequel about how John Tanis and Bill Bremmer come to conflict, which I think would also make a great addition at some point…again I am deciding whether to let certain revelations out in book 3 or save it for the prequel book…ah the power you have when crafting a book! So many choices!

Wishing everyone happy reading and / or writing 🙂

About Book One – Divided Serenity

Serenity Divided, a science fiction novel, is set on a colonised planet, where a force-field wall separates the technologically advanced settlers from the planet’s native inhabitants. When an earthquake destroys the power to maintain their protective wall, a repair team will need to travel through native lands on the precipice of war, and their unlikely offer of aid will come from John Tanis—the sworn enemy of the colony leader—who was exiled ten years ago.

[Divided Serenity US]

[Divided Serenity UK]

For the latest news on Book Two, you can subscribe to my newsletter [HERE] or follow my author site G.L.Cromarty [www.GLCromarty.com]

If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s Free!

There are no rules on how to write #amwriting #writing

Sometimes when we write, the ideas tumble out in a dizzy onslaught that our fingers can barely keep pace with. Perhaps we are doing something unassuming, such as a task that does not require our mind’s involvement, and a scene unravels in such rapid and startling detail that we dash off to our computer, or failing that a trusty pen and pad.

At other times we have done some planning, and we know roughly what needs to transpire in a scene. We sit down at our keyboard with predetermined intent.

Sometimes the story chugs out like train carriages passing through a station. The ideas are orderly. They flow into one another without urgency, but always the next waits to fall into place just as you need it. You can see where you are, but only the next sentence is ever revealed. I often find this style yields the most surprises. Perhaps a character reveals a hidden detail about themselves, or a sudden insight into the wider plot makes itself known. These chapters need very little editing, and they leave you feeling satisfied.

Sometimes we sit down, and even knowing where the chapter must take us, find ourselves in a fight. The story resists at every single step. We try to coax it,  and then we try to push it, but neither option really works. We get to the end by shear force of will, and with a greater sense of relief than satisfaction. These drafts get the job done, but often need extensive editing to tune the quality, with whole paragraphs chopped back into a single succinct sentence. While writing these scenes may not provide much satisfaction—editing them always does.